Lawyers for former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., on Tuesday accused federal investigators of prosecutorial misconduct on a variety of grounds, including pressing witnesses about Schock’s sexuality, whom he slept with and if he is gay.
The “prosecutor and agents have dug into every aspect of Mr. Schock’s life by any means necessary. No topic has been off limits. The federal government has even delved, repeatedly, into the most intimate details of his life, including repeated inquiries to witnesses into who he has slept with and whether he is gay,” Schock’s lawyers said in a memo filed in federal court.
Schock was indicted on Nov. 10, 2016, and his defense lawyers in the 92-page pretrial filing Tuesday asked a judge to dismiss the charges, for, among several reasons, the government’s sexual-oriented inquiries. If that can’t happen, they’re asking that any evidence “tainted” by the alleged misconduct be banned.
“The prosecutor and federal agents have repeatedly asked irrelevant and highly invasive questions about Mr. Schock’s sexual orientation and relationships,” Schock’s lawyers said in one filing.
“The government has investigated nearly every facet of Mr. Schock’s professional, political, and personal life. This even includes his sex life. It is no secret that there has long been speculative gossip in the media about Mr. Schock’s sexual orientation.
“For no apparent reason, the government has felt itself compelled to investigate this too. Indeed, from the very inception of this investigation, the government has discussed with witnesses whether Mr. Schock is gay, whether he really ‘dated’ his ex-girlfriend (a highly accomplished diplomat and attorney), and whether he spent the night or shared hotel rooms with her.
“The government’s inquiries into Mr. Schock’s sexuality and romantic relationships were not just distasteful and offensive. They were prejudicial.”
Schock’s trial is scheduled for January 2018 before a federal court judge in Urbana, following years of federal pursuit launched over whether he misused political and government funds.
Rumors about Schock’s sexuality have been openly whispered about since before he resigned from Congress in March 2015 and are something Schock, 36, has taken in stride. Prosecutors have never asserted that Schock’s sex life has any connection to the pending criminal charges.
Schock’s lawyers make the point that Schock’s sex life — whether gay or straight — is not germane and out of legal bounds, arguing investigators crossed a line with the “government’s inappropriate, irrelevant, and highly prejudicial questioning of witnesses about Mr. Schock’s sexual orientation and romantic relationships.”
Moreover, “The government’s apparent obsession with Mr. Schock’s sexuality and whether he ‘dated’ Karla Gonzalez was fueled from the very first conversation with the government’s confidential informant,” Schock’s defense team argued.
Gonzalez is an attorney living in Washington D.C.
A federal grand jury in Springfield indicted Schock for allegedly using campaign and government funds improperly for cars, mileage reimbursements, interior decorating, a charter plane flight to a Bears game and sports tickets he resold for profit.
The 24-count indictment also accuses Schock, once a rising political star from Peoria, of filing false income tax returns and covering up his alleged fraud schemes with fake invoices and false statements.
Schock resigned from Congress on March 17, 2015, under a cloud, and the U.S. Attorney in Springfield opened a probe a few days later.
At present, Schock lives in Los Angeles and Peoria and is in the real estate development business.
The lead prosecutor on Schock’s case, Tim Bass, put himself in the running to become the next U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, based in Springfield. President Donald Trump has not yet nominated anyone for the vacancy.
Sharon Paul, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for the Central District, said she had no comment on the Schock filings.
Many Schock staffers appeared before the grand jury, including Karen Haney, who was Schock’s political director, and Sarah Rogers, an executive assistant in his congressional office.
“Over the course of more than a year, the prosecutor systematically took steps that intimidated these witnesses and exposed them, directly, to false information about Mr. Schock,” Schock’s McGuireWoods law firm attorneys — George J. Terwilliger III; Robert J. Bittman; Benjamin L. Hatch, and Nicholas B. Lewis — said in their filing.
Earlier this year, on March 28, 2017, Schock’s defense team filed a motion asserting that federal probers improperly turned a “fairly junior staffer” in Schock’s Peoria office into a “confidential informant” who secretly recorded him and stole documents.
On Tuesday, Schock’s lawyers asked a judge for a second time to suppress any evidence from the informant.