The Difference Between Steve Stockman and Beto O'Rourke

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Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Friendswood)

There's a story out there right now about two Texas congressmen. One, Friendswood Republican Steve Stockman has failed to lawfully disclose business deals from here to the Virgin Islands, and has repeatedly violated campaign ethics rules. The other, El Paso Democrat Beto O'Rourke, asked the House Ethics Committee this month whether his stockbroker's recent purchase of $2,600 in Twitter stock violated a recently signed law.

An investigative report by the Houston Chronicle found that Stockman was the only Texas representative who failed to file a federal disclosure form while running for re-election last year. Since the election, Stockman has continued to either not file required forms or to file them late. In belated reports of his 2012 candidacy, Stockman attributed much of his income to “Presidential Trust Marketing,” a company not listed in any public records.

Hmm. Read more below the jump.

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso)

It turns out Stockman has “a history of reported problems both in 2012-2013 and in the 1990s”. One such “problem” is an illegal $15,000 contribution made by two of his campaign staffers to the campaign. Another is that he appears to have used U.S. Capitol stationary for campaign materials, despite not being a congressman at the time.

“Did anyone review this? Has the House Ethics Committee followed up? It just seems very odd. I would have a lot of questions for him,” Washington University law professor Kathleen Clark said. “There are many things about the disclosure that I don't understand.”

And what of Beto O'Rourke, caught up in the same headlines as Stockman's ethics violations? Well, there's not much of a story at all. His stockbroker purchased $2,600 in Twitter stock when the company made its first public offering this month, and O'Rourke immediately reported it to the House Ethics Committee. There's a new law, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, aimed at preventing members of Congress from investing in stocks they will legislate about. He said he hadn't seen a memo this month about the dangers of participating in initial public offerings.

“This is the same deal I've had for the last 10 years,” O'Rourke said about his stockbroker making decisions and telling him after, just like any other client. “There's nothing about me being a member of Congress that got me special treatment.”

So, now to decide who we should be more concerned about. The repeatedly ethically-challenged representative who brought Ted Nugent to a State of the Union, or the honest congressmen who immediately reported a possible ethics violation?

It's not a hard one.


About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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