Outgoing Rep. Steve Stockman and three staffers in his Capitol Hill office have been served with grand jury subpoenas for testimony and documents in a criminal investigation in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Texas Republican — who has been under scrutiny for campaign contributions from his staff — hasn’t decided whether to cooperate.
“I am consulting with counsel to determine whether and to what extent compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the privileges and rights of the House,” Stockman formally informed Speaker John A. Boehner in a notice that was read by the House clerk when the chamber reconvened Wednesday after six weeks of recess.
Stockman’s office did not respond to phone or email inquiries on Monday.
In a scathing report made public in June, the Office of Congressional Ethics said Stockman may have violated federal law and House rules when he accepted campaign donations from two of his congressional staffers, lied to investigators and attempted to impede their work. Stockman’s campaign falsely identified the donors as family members of the employees in subsequent campaign finance reports, the OCE found. The congressman later told OCE that the staffers resigned before making the contributions and were then re-hired, according to the report.
The board recommended the bipartisan panel of House lawmakers on the Ethics Committee should issue subpoenas to the congressman and eight others for not cooperating with OCE’s review and declining to provide documentary or testimonial evidence to the OCE. So far, the committee has not announced any formal investigation into the matter.
House Chief Administrative Officer Ed Cassidy has also been served with a grand jury subpoena for documents in the D.C. court, he notified the speaker on Wednesday. A spokesman for the office did not respond to inquiries. It is unclear if the subpoena is related to the Stockman probe. The CAO manages accounting and payroll for House members and staff.
Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said he was unable to provide information when asked about the Stockman and Cassidy subpoenas.
The staffers cooperating with the probe are: Donny Ferguson, a senior advisor and communications director; Kristine Brakstad Nichols, executive assistant and scheduler; and Printus LeBlanc, a legislative assistant. All three said in their notice to the speaker that they have “determined that compliance with the subpoena is consistent with the precedents and of the privileges of the House.”
It is unclear when the subpoenas were issued. House rules require members and employees to notify the notify the speaker of any judicial orders. If a subpoena is issued during recess, the speaker must be “promptly” informed when the chamber is back in session.
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