An attorney for disgraced former Rep. Aaron Schock sought Thursday to dismiss federal fraud and theft charges stemming from his time in office, saying the indictment “repeatedly trespasses on land the Constitution reserves for Congress.”
Prosecutors say Schock used campaign and government funds for personal expenses — including travel and the lavish redecoration of his Capitol Hill office in the style of the popular television show, “Downton Abbey.” The Republican, first elected in 2008, resigned from his seat representing Illinois’ 18th District in May 2015.
But one of Schock’s attorneys, George Terwilliger, argues in part that prosecutors are playing “Monday morning quarterback” with interpretations of House rules that are ambiguous—and that those interpretations are “inventions of the prosecutors made up after the fact.”
“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 legal team wrote in a 56-page memorandum filed in federal district court in Illinois.
“It charges Mr. Schock with alleged crimes based on the government’s own interpretation of the requirements it says should have been met in reimbursement submissions to the House — reimbursement submissions that the House Finance Office deemed valid,” Schock’s attorneys wrote.
Schock’s attorneys also say the former lawmaker is protected from prosecution by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. While that traditionally protects lawmakers from prosecution for what they say on the floor of Congress, the lawyers argue, it also applies to conduct or speech that is addressed to the House’s interpretation or application of certain rules.
The government has two weeks to respond. Schock pleaded not guilty in the case. A jury trial in the case is set for July 10.