Former Texas Congressman Steve Stockman accused of violating federal election law

HOUSTON – Steve Stockman, who served two stints in the U.S. House of Representatives, spent part of Friday in federal court.

Stockman, a Tea Party favorite who courted controversy thorough two congressional terms, was brought into court Thursday shackled and handcuffed.

He is accused of conspiring to violate federal election laws during his last term in office. It's a felony that could send him to federal prison if he's convicted.

As Stockman stood before the judge Thursday afternoon, prosecutors alleged that the former Congressman had conspired with two former employees to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to his personal use.

According to the complaint, in 2011 Stockman set up a non-profit called Life Without Limits in Las Vegas. A single contributor donated $350,000 to the charity, which Stockman then allegedly funneled back to himself through donations made by his employees.

Stockman said he understood the charge. Judge Stephen Smith set bail at $25,000.

When the judge told Stockman he needed to obtain an attorney by Friday, the following exchange ensued:

Stockman: You said 2 o'clock tomorrow? I should have counsel by two?
Judge: Yes.
Stockman: I'll have to hustle with that.
Judge: Yeah, you will. These are serious charges.

Stockman served two terms in Congress from 1995 to 1997, and then again from 2013 to 2015. He resigned to run unsuccessfully against Senator John Cornyn in the 2014 Republican primary.