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In a letter to the Ethics Committee, Owens’ attorneys said the report piles “inference on supposition to reach unsupported and unsupportable allegations.” Perkins Coie attorney Brian Svoboda also alleges that the ethics office violated its own rules and ultimately “declares itself judge and jury” in the matter.
The OCE is a fact-finding agency that reviews allegations of wrongdoing and sends its findings to the Ethics Committee, which has the purview to determine wrongdoing and apply appropriate sanctions.
In the Schock report, the ethics office says there is “substantial reason to believe” House rules and the Code of Ethics were breached when he solicited “campaign contributions for an independent expenditure-only committee in excess of $5,000 per donor.”
The report cites Schock’s acknowledgement of the request in CQ Roll Call.
Schock’s attorney, Robert Kelner of Covington & Burling, wrote in a letter to the committee that there have been “novel issues of law raised in this matter” that should instead be resolved by the Federal Election Commission.
“In a matter such as this one that turns on a pure question of campaign finance law, and that relates to political activities having no connection to official duties, we respectfully submit that the FEC is the appropriate venue in which to resolve that legal question,” Kelner wrote.
Svoboda and Kelner are among a group of attorneys that has, in recent weeks, been in a tussle with the OCE over its rules and procedures.
Owens and Schock both said the developments were merely the latest phase in ongoing ethics processes that would eventually result in exoneration.
“I expect that ultimately it will result in an affirmation of my position that the trip was undertaken in the quest for jobs for my constituents and was done with every intention to comply with all applicable rules,” Owens said in a statement.
“The news from the House Ethics Committee today about a case involving Congressman Aaron Schock is in regards to the same complaint that has been covered in the media for nearly a year dealing with donations to a super PAC that was involved in the Kinzinger-Manzullo primary election last spring,” said Schock’s spokesman Steve Dutton, referring to an Illinois House primary between Kinzinger and former Republican Rep. Donald Manzullo. “We remain firmly convinced that Congressman Schock will be exonerated when the Ethics Committee examines the complaint and in due course resolves this matter.”