Former 18th Dist. U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has broken his silence concerning federal charges of corruption and misuse of government and campaign funds against him.
“Anytime you’re involved in a legal matter your attorneys say don’t say anything, justice will prevail and I’ve always believed in our criminal justice system and they’re interested in the truth. But, sadly it became very clear during the over two years they were investigating me they were on a massive fishing expedition,” Schock said Thursday during an appearance on ‘The Ingraham Angle’ on Fox News Channel.
The Peoria Republican is facing 22 felony charges after the dismissal of two charges, which could net him a total of 80 to 100 years in prison.
Schock said the investigation against him is the work of an “Obama-era holdover justice department.”
“They went so far, while I was still in office, to wire up a low level staffer in my office. They directed that staffer, without a search warrant, to steal documents in my office, to steal attorney-client privileged material. And to even steal records of the House of Representatives,” Schock said. “Then, they were forced to admit in court that they didn’t find anything.”
Schock claims the justice department infringed upon the rights of the House of Representatives to make its own rules. And Schock says the way he has been charged is “almost laughable.”
Schock pointed out as an example his purchase of a car with campaign funds to travel around his district, which is legal.
“We submitted to the FEC (Federal Election Commission) the purchase of that vehicle and the payment to the dealership as a transportation expense. The government has now charged me with a false statement to a federal agency. They believe it should have said ‘vehicle purchase,’” Schock said.
Schock has also been accused of running up more vehicle miles than what he had sold campaign vehicles for.
“My staff and I were estimating my mileage as we went around the district, which the House Finance Office accepted as estimates. The government now comes back and says you can’t have estimates,” Schock said.
The charge against Schock that has gained the most attention is the claim he illegally used campaign funds to decorate his Washington, D.C. office in the style of the PBS program “Downton Abbey.”
“I’ve never seen the show ‘Downton Abbey.’ I hadn’t even heard of the show until the Washington Post ran that story,” Schock said. “The money came from my office budget. So I spent $25,000 from my office budget on my office.”
“One of the items the decorator purchased was a light fixture,” Schock said. “According to the House rules you can buy fixtures but not furniture. The government came in and said, that’s not a fixture, that’s a piece of furniture. Again, claiming a false statement to a government agency, 20 year felony.”
“After they wired up my informant and didn’t find anything, they then, during the grand jury process, used my Fifth Amendment right to not appear against me,” Schock said. “When we heard about it called them out on it to the judge. The judge asked the prosecutor’s office were you doing this. They emphatically denied it. Three months later they had to admit to the court they had lied and, in fact, had used my Fifth Amendment right (against me) 11 times on 11 different occasions.”
Schock resigned from Congress in March 2015 as the federal investigation began. Federal agents raided Schock’s Junction City campaign office in June 2015. Schock was indicted in November 2016.
Schock told Fox News he believes it is not a coincidence that he was indicted two days after Donald Trump was elected president.
The case against Schock has now been placed before a third judge.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly has been assigned to the case by chief judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Diane Wood. Wood was asked by Chief U.S. District Judge James Shadid of Peoria to handle the assignment.
U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce of Urbana was removed from the Schock case, and all others involving the federal government, because he had talked to a member of the U.S. Attorney’s office in a separate matter while a trial was in progess.
Besides Bruce, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough in Springfield, recused herself from the case after Schock’s attorneys claimed she could have a perceived bias against him.
While denying any bias in refusing to move Schock’s case to Peoria, Myerscough stepped aside. The case was then assigned to Urbana.
The timetable for future proceedings in Schock’s case remains in question. A number of pre-trial motions have been filed including a new motion to move the case to Peoria.
Schock’s attorneys said in July they intend to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and requested a freeze on the corruption trial to continue until the high court reviews his case.
“We hope the Supreme Court accepts our hearing,” Schock told Fox News, “because there are important constitutional concerns about allowing the justice department to reinterpret House rules.”