His prospects for a summer congressional internship dashed by gun charges, Joshua Wheeler waived his right to the preliminary hearing that was scheduled for Thursday morning in hopes of lifting a judge's order to stay away from Capitol grounds.
The Capitol Police officer seated in the back row of the courtroom exited shortly before Wheeler's lawyer told the D.C. Superior Court judge of his client's decision to forego the hearing. An affidavit filed Tuesday detailed the cop's alleged discovery of an unloaded 9mm handgun in Wheeler's black bag, the arrest and his statement to authorities that he purchased the handgun in Kansas and drove to Washington with it in his vehicle. Despite the felony charges Wheeler faces, he might get another shot at working for the vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference in a more firearm-friendly locale.
After the details of the June 1 incident became public, Tom Brandt, a spokesman for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., told CQ Roll Call the office's goal would be to to ensure Wheeler "can move on from this and return home to Kansas.” Brandt said Thursday the office is "open" to the 25-year-old completing his internship in Jenkins' Topeka office once he gets back to Kansas.
Court documents indicate Wheeler brought the semi-automatic weapon to work by accident, having removed its magazine from his bag before he came to work Monday. Wheeler told police he had planned to go to the gun range with a relative over the weekend, but didn’t get to go.
While on temporary leave from Jenkins' office, Wheeler has lined up an internship at a financial management firm in eastern Virginia, where his father serves as a pastor with Republican political ties. The company is based in Norfolk, Va.
"Heritage Wealth Management Group, Ltd. is proud to announce that a mutual agreement was reached today with Josh Wheeler to intern for its investment advisory business," stated a June 4 press release shared by President Chuck Christie. "Josh is the youngest son of the Reverend Aaron Wheeler, Sr., a prominent Chesapeake, VA community leader, businessman, and the senior pastor at Mountaintop Missionary Baptist Church."
While Wheeler is in town he will be helping with "our financial outreach to the young professionals in our community, and we will be sharing with him how we run our business, help our clients, and why we do what we do," Christie told CQ Roll Call in an email.
Wheeler's defense attorney, Pierce Suen, requested his next court appearance be scheduled for late June. Suen also shielded Wheeler from answering questions in the hallway outside the courtroom.
No details about the potential Kansas-based internship have been discussed, according to Brandt.
Related: Intern to Police: ‘I Didn’t Think That Was in There’ Jenkins Intern Faces up to 5 Years in Prison for Gun Charges Police Stop Intern From Bringing Gun Into House Office Building (Updated) (Video) See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.