HOUSTON (CN) — A former congressional staffer faces decades in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy for helping his boss divert charitable donations to his political campaigns.
Thomas Dodd, who worked for former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R- Texas, pleaded guilty Monday to lying to the Federal Election Commission and mail and wire fraud.
In the plea agreement, Dodd agreed to help authorities build a case against Stockman, who was arrested on March 15 in Houston on related conspiracy charges.
Dodd admitted he helped Stockman funnel nearly $800,000 through two nonprofit shell companies to his campaigns from 2010 to 2013.
Stockman represented Texas’s 36th Congressional District, northeast of Houston, from 2013 to 2015 and made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2014 against the Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. He represented Texas’s 9th congressional district from 1995 to 1997, a roughly similar area before district lines were redrawn.
Dodd and Stockman solicited $450,000 in donations from an unnamed person between 2010 and 2012.
The money was supposed to be used to fund “legitimate voter education activities in specific jurisdictions” before the November 2010 federal elections, according to the plea agreement.
Although the donor made it clear that he was unwilling to provide any funds to Stockman’s campaign, Stockman told Dodd he intended to use the money to pay for that.
“Even though [Dodd] knew that any additional charitable donations… would be improperly diverted to pay for … congressional campaign expenses, [he] agreed to continue assisting [Stockman] in soliciting for additional charitable donations,” Dodd’s plea agreement states.
Stockman also gave Dodd $50,000 of the money to pay off personal credit card debts, according to the plea agreement.
In 2013, after Stockman was sworn into office, Dodd and a co-conspirator asked another unnamed person for a donation to help renovate a house near the U.S. Capitol, called the Freedom House.
This unidentified person donated $350,000, but the house, which was supposed to serve as a meeting place for congressional interns, was never opened.
Dodd and his co-conspirator had agreed to divert a portion of that money to pay off Stockman’s campaign debt. Although the co-conspirator is not named in the plea agreement, he is identified in Stockman’s criminal complaint as the former congressman’s director of special projects, Jason Posey.
Posey has not been criminally charged.
Stockman fired Dodd and Posey in 2013 after they admitted giving him illegal campaign contributions.
According to Dodd’s plea agreement, Stockman wrote checks to his employees who in turn wrote checks to his campaign.
To conceal that they had funneled money into the congressional campaign account, Dodd and Posey agreed to report falsely to the FEC that the contributions were made by Dodd’s mother and Posey’s father.
In an amended report, Dodd and Posey acknowledged that they had actually made the contributions.
Dodd faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each charge.
Stockman, who was arrested while boarding a plane at Bush Intercontinental Airport on his way to the United Arab Emirates, was released on a $25,000 unsecured appearance bond.
Stockman told the Houston Chronicle after a March 17 court hearing that he had been arrested on trumped-up charges in retaliation for criticizing the IRS.
He claimed that bureaucrats are conspiring to manipulate and control the federal government.
“This is part of a deep state that’s continuing to progress,” Stockman said.
While in office, Stockman garnered national attention by accusing the Clinton administration of staging the Branch Davidian raid in Waco to justify a ban on assault weapons. In 2013, he invited Ted Nugent to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.