The government is denying claims from former Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-Ill.) lawyers that it had overstepped when investigating alleged misdeeds by the then-congressman.
Last month, Schock’s lawyers filed court documents stating that the FBI had turned a then-staffer for the Illinois lawmaker into a confidential informant and allegedly had him “steal” documents, including another staffer’s emails. In the document, Schock's defense asks the government to turn over more information about whether it directed the informant.
Schock is accused of misusing government and campaign funds, including for his own benefit, and was indicted on 24 counts last year. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. A trial could begin this summer.
The government is firing back against Schock’s defense attorneys, describing the former lawmaker as uncooperative and inconsistent in his statements.
“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 62-page filing by the government said.
“This quest, with all of its attendant inflammatory rhetoric,” has resulted in requests for grand jury information and additional discovery related to the confidential informant, writes Timothy Bass, the assistant U.S. attorney leading the case. “In these motions, Defendant Schock futilely attempts to manufacture claims of governmental misconduct during the course of the investigation.”
The defense attorneys will receive more items from the discovery process, but a remainder of what the government has is not legally entitled to them.
"Defendant Schock asks this Court to order a response to an interrogatory-like list of questions, seeking various types of information, nearly all of which he has already received, or to which he is plainly not entitled under the law," Bass said.
Among its rebuttals, the government says that the informant, who served as Schock’s district office manager at the time, agreed to be interviewed and freely gave documents and other materials to investigators.
The office manager had been specifically instructed on who and when to record, Bass said in the response.
Instructions included not recording any conversations that could be protected by attorney-client privilege, touching on claims made by lawyers for Schock. The defense claims that the confidential informant deliberately recorded calls that staffers had with attorneys and tried to elicit details protected by attorney-client privilege.
Bass also writes that search warrants for Schock’s Illinois district office were obtained without information from the informant and that many things from the informant would not be used at trial.
While the search of Schock’s office was being executed, federal law enforcement officers took many of the same documents that the informant had provided.
The questions about Schock's expenses first emerged after a Washington Post story that described his elaborately decorated office, with a price tag of $40,000. Its designer said it was modeled after the television show "Downton Abbey." Schock's defense has said the former lawmaker has never seen the show.
In the indictment of Schock, released last November, federal prosecutors alleged that he improperly billed both the government and his campaign committees for personal expenses, in addition to pocketing the proceeds.
Other charges against him include filing a false tax return, making false statements, theft of government funds and falsification of Federal Election Commission filings — all felonies that could result in years of jail time.