After federal prosecutors on Tuesday denied allegations they improperly turned a staffer into an informant to build a corruption case against former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), the congressman asked a judge to dismiss that case, arguing in part that prosecutors violated the Constitution’s separation of powers provisions.
Schock was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on multiple counts, including improper use of campaign and government funds and falsifying documents. He had resigned from Congress in 2015 after news stories on his fancy, “Downton Abbey”-inspired office decor invited scrutiny of his finances and jet-setting lifestyle.
His lawyers now are trying to get those corruption charges tossed out in part by arguing that federal prosecutors were out of line in interpreting U.S. House rules for their own ends.
“The wide-ranging Indictment against Mr. Schock repeatedly trespasses on land the Constitution reserves for Congress,” Schock’s lawyers wrote in a Thursday filing supporting the motion to dismiss the indictment. “The Indictment repeatedly relies on House rules or standards that were not designed to be the basis for criminal charges and are themselves ambiguous.”
Schock’s attorneys argued that the government violated the Constitution’s Rulemaking Clause, Speech or Debate Clause and Due Process Clause. They specifically argued that House rulemaking, specifically rules on how members spend money, is protected under the Speech or Debate Clause, which shields members of Congress’ legislative work from the executive branch.
Read Schock’s filing below:
This motion to dismiss the indictment came after Schock’s lawyers submitted a filing last month alleging that federal investigators improperly directed a former office manager for the congressman to record phone conversations and take documents from his office. Schock’s lawyers requested access to additional documents so that they could definitively determine whether federal investigators broke any rules or laws.
Prosecutors denied any wrongdoing in a filing submitted late on Tuesday, however. They argued that they followed rules governing the use of informants in the case of the staffer, who they say was given specific instructions on what an informant was not permitted to record, such as conversations with a lawyer present. Prosecutors also wrote that the FBI and the deputy assistant attorney general both signed off on the informant recording conversations with Schock and other staffers.
“From the beginning of the investigation that led to his indictment, Defendant Schock has engaged in an increasingly aggressive search for some governmental misconduct claim, initially to forestall the indictment, and now to avoid the trial on the merits,” the government’s attorneys wrote. “In these motions, Defendant Schock futilely attempts to manufacture claims of governmental misconduct during the course of the investigation.”
While the government’s attorneys asserted in the filing that they did not break any laws in using Schock’s staffer as an informant, they wrote that they did not use records obtained by that staffer for the indictment and will not use them at the July 11 trial. They also argue that they have already handed over the documents to which Schock “is entitled under the law and much more.”
Read the government’s filing below: