Aaron Schock hoped an appellate court in Chicago would toss the criminal case against him before he even made it to trial.
Instead, a three-judge panel told the former Peoria congressman Wednesday to come back if he’s convicted.
The feds have accused Schock of using campaign and government funds for cars, mileage reimbursements, interior decorating, a charter flight to a Bears game and sports tickets he sold for profit.
Schock’s lawyers say his indictment is flawed because it repeatedly references the official rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. Last month, they came to Chicago and insisted to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the judicial branch has no business interpreting those rules — to do so violates the separation of powers.
“An ambiguous rule cannot be used to support the prosecution of a member of Congress,” Benjamin Hatch, one of Schock’s lawyers, told a three-judge panel.
But that panel dismissed Schock’s appeal Wednesday. A 10-page opinion by Judge Frank Easterbrook concluded the court did not have standing to decide the matter before trial.
However, Easterbrook wrote Schock’s argument “does not represent established doctrine.” He compared the rules of Congress to the policies of Microsoft.
“Microsoft Corporation has the sole power to establish rules about how much its employees will be reimbursed for travel expenses, but no one thinks that this prevents a criminal prosecution of persons who submit fraudulent claims for reimbursement or fail to pay tax on the difference between their actual expenses and the amount they receive from Microsoft,” Easterbrook wrote.
In a statement, Schock’s lead attorney George J. Terwilliger, III, said he was “disappointed” in Wednesday’s ruling.
“The ruling is not consistent with those rendered by other U.S. Courts of Appeals in similar circumstances, thus we will be evaluating our options regarding further appeal on these constitutional issues. The ruling does not have any impact on the fact that the indictment is founded upon prosecutors’ after-the-fact interpretation of reimbursement rules established and administered by Congress,” the statement said.
“As we continue to contend in court, the charges are the result of a determination to indict in spite of the true facts, not because of them. We are confident justice will ultimately prevail in a case that has unnecessarily now dragged on for more than two years at significant taxpayer expense.”
Schock is also accused of filing false income tax returns and covering up his spending trail and alleged fraud schemes with fake invoices and false statements.
He was the youngest member of the House when he arrived in 2009. He resigned under a cloud of suspicion on March 31, 2015.