HOUSTON (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has questioned four donations U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman received after he introduced a bill that would allow an American Indian tribe in East Texas to open a casino.
Stockman, who's now challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican primary for Senate, introduced a bill in March that would give gaming rights to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe in southeast Texas.
Then, in April and July, his campaign collected the four donations in question — two totaling $5,100 from an Arizona resident and another $5,000 in two donations from a California Indian group. Both donors credited Stockman's support of the casino for their support.
According to the Houston Chronicle, (http://bit.ly/1bqi1Ka ) the FEC sent Stockman a letter Dec. 20 asking about allegedly "excessive donations." The letter says Stockman's campaign needs to refund about half the money or revise its accountings within 60 days of receiving the donations, a period that apparently has run out.
Stockman's campaign did not respond to the newspaper's requests for comment. A phone message left Wednesday by The Associated Press at Stockman's Washington office wasn't immediately returned, and an emailed request for comment from the AP to a spokesman for Stockman was not immediately returned.
The bill Stockman co-sponsored for the tribe has not come out of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.
Stockman's House campaign last reported having only about $32,000 in cash while carrying more than $163,000 in debts. He made a last-minute announcement that he was running against Cornyn, whose campaign says it has more than $7 million in cash.
His campaign has been hamstrung by reported problems with its finances and reporting income. Stockman recently dismissed two congressional staffers for making prohibited contributions, and a recent Chronicle investigation found that Stockman long failed to file federal campaign finance disclosure forms.
"This most recent letter from the FEC combined with the earlier letters and the campaign's responses to them together make it more likely that the Stockman campaign will be chosen for an audit by the FEC," said Brett Kappel, a Washington, D.C., attorney who focuses on campaign finance.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com