Into the Den of Stockmania

The truth about my alleged "invasion" of the Friendswood congressman's one-stop political sweatshop and homestead

Press calls to the house and Cupit and partner Jason Posey (who had identified himself as a Stockman "volunteer" to The Hill) went unreturned, so the only option seemed to be an on-site inspection. After I followed Stallworth into the living room of the Stockman domicile, I met several volunteers who claimed Cupit was not there. But the 1995 Saturn that was reposing in Stockman's driveway at the time is registered to Cupit.

The front of the intensely claustrophobic house, where windows might otherwise be found, is sealed by planking, and the only vista to the street is a pinhole in the worn wooden front door. It hardly seems a residence fitting for a U.S. congressman, even one whose employment history prior to his 1994 election was rather spotty.

The living room, cluttered with campaign signs and literature, opens on the right into a garage office, where Political Won Stop apparently does its work. A hallway on the left presumably leads to some sort of sleeping quarters, where Patti may or may not have been crouching in fear while I was in the front room.

Upon my entry, Stallworth summoned a dark-haired young man from the garage office, who proved far less friendly. "You'll have to leave," he announced in a rather whiny, nasal voice. (The following day, the Press called Chris Cupit at his home in Groves and discovered that he possess a whiny, nasal voice identical to that of the man who ordered me out of Stockman's residence. But perhaps everybody who works for Stevie whines. On the phone, Cupit flatly denied being present at Stockman's house during my visit. Before we could ask what his car was doing in Stockman's driveway, Cupit said he had to go but promised to call us back shortly. He never did, of course.)

At the Stockman compound, the Cupit sound-alike denied that Political Won Stop operated out of the house, but tried to change the subject when I reminded him that Stockman's own campaign finance filings list the company as based there. "I know, but we have rights, too, and you've got to honor our rights," he whined. He seemed especially terrified that photographer Fruge, who was just outside the front door with her camera, might get a shot of his face. He tried to close the front door, and another volunteer then slammed it shut and pressed his back against it, barring any exit. I asked the head whiner what he was so afraid of. "We're not afraid of anything," he insisted, rather unconvincingly.

After being ordered once more to leave, I replied, "Well, fine, open the door. And don't hide too much. You guys are pathetic." And with that, my alleged "invasion" of the congressman's castle was over. Minutes later, several young Stockman volunteers drove up, and I asked them to locate Chris Cupit for me. Once inside the house, they didn't come back out before Fruge and I departed.

Fruge took a few more shots of Fort Stockman from the street while I went to interview neighbors. Birenbaum would later claim she took photos through the windows of the Stockman abode. The problem with that particular lie is that there are no windows accessible from the front yard to take photos through.

A woman who lives next door to Stockman seemed surprised to learn that the bustling political office also housed a U.S. congressman and his wife. "No, I do not know him," said Hanan Zadeh, when asked if she had had the pleasure of meeting Steve Stockman.

Zadeh -- who, unlike the boys next door, did not hesitate to identify herself -- seemed unperturbed by the continuous stream of people coursing in and out of Stockman's alleged residence.

"We know this is just temporary for election time," she explained. "It's not a problem."

But depending on how the money paid by Stockman to Political Won Stop is actually used, it could be a big problem for the Freshman Prince of Friendswood in the not-so-distant future.

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