Pro-Rep. Steve Stockman Last Minute Mailings Constitute Possible FEC Violations
Last minute, campaign materials supporting Rep. Steve Stockman that possibly violate FEC regulations are showing up across the state of Texas in the current primary race for U.S. Senate.
Printed copies of a fake newspaper called Conservative News have been reported in Houston and Austin, as initially reported in a tweet from Scott Braddock.
The newspaper contains articles attacking sitting Senator John Cornyn and lauding Rep. Steve Stockman but doesn't have the FEC required "Paid For" notice or any identifying names for writers, editors or publishers.
The only identifier for Conservative News is a notice that it comes from a website for a group called Center for the American Future with a reference to the group's website.
Breitbart News has confirmed that the website that publishes Conservative News was commissioned by Rep. Steve Stockman's longtime associate, business partner and former campaign treasurer Jason Posey.
The Center for the American Future website was created by the same small Tennessee web design firm that created Stockman's official Senate campaign site. A representative of the web design firm confirmed Jason Posey commissioned the site. Additionally, Posey's own signature appearers on a "thank you" page for the Center for the American Future website.
Jason Posey has a long, close association with Steve Stockman and Posey's LinkedIn page still lists him as working for Stockman.
Posey was at the center of controversy in late 2013 when it was revealed that he had made contributions to Stockman's campaign while working for Stockman, an apparent violation of both the "Federal Election Campaign Act and House rules that bar congressional staffers from contributing to their boss' campaign", according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Stockman and Posey were also business partners in a Nevada registered company called Cherokee Solutions, LLC.
After numerous unanswered calls to the website's contact number from Breitbart Texas, a new notice on the Center for the American Future site reads:
Statement to the Press
February 24, 2014
The Center for the American Future does not support or oppose any candidate. Our newsletters are completed with publicly available information. They are not produced in coordination with any campaign.
Please check back for our upcoming Alaska edition.
Stockman And Staffer's History Of Fake Newspapers
Stockman and his staffer Donny Ferguson both have a history of mailing out fake newspapers as a campaign tactic.
During his first run as a U.S. Congressman in the 1990s, Stockman was investigated and in a 1998 Federal Election Commission ruling, Stockman's campaign was fined $40,000 for, among other violations, printing campaign materials disguised as newspapers the Southeast Texas Times and Southeast Texas Statesman.
On January 24, 2014 the Dallas Morning News reported:
During a 2012 campaign, Steve Stockman sent out more than 400,000 mailings with titles such as “Times Free Press” and the “Southeast Texas Courier.” The papers usually bore no indication they were produced by Stockman as campaign materials.
Stockman's spokesperson Donny Ferguson also has a history of fake news publishing, when he was the executive director of a shadowy group in Montana called American Tradition Partnership (ATP). Ferguson was listed as "editor and publisher" on a newspaper in Montana called The Montana Statesman, which referred to itself as "Montana's Largest & Most Trusted News Source" on its masthead.
In January, 2013 Donny Ferguson resigned from ATP after a federal grand jury subpoenaed documents connected to ATP that were found in a Colorado meth house. In July 2013 the State of Montana fined ATP more than $260,000 for "blatant and pervasive violations."
Ferguson has not answered multiple inquiries about Posey or the newspaper.
Follow Lee Stranahan on Twitter @Stranahan