EDITORIAL: Aaron Schock has learned a lesson, but what about the feds?
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Former U.S. Rep Aaron Schock’s absurdly lavish lifestyle revealed miserable judgment.
Red walls for his Capitol Hill office? A gold-colored sconce with black candles? A crystal chandelier?
For a kid from Peoria?
But, in the end, it may be that federal prosecutors showed even worse judgment, pursuing a criminal case against Schock for almost four years before, on Wednesday, finally saying “never mind.”
What a waste of time and money.
And how fair was this to Schock?
In a “deferred prosecution” deal made public on Wednesday, Schock, a Republican, agreed to pay back taxes to the IRS and $68,000 to his congressional campaign funds. If he gets into no further trouble for six months, which we expect is a near certainty, he will walk away with a clean record.
But Schock has already paid a big price. This entirely avoidable scandal, of his own doing, forced him to resign from Congress in 2015. His wunderkind career was cut short.
Before his fall, Schock decorated his congressional office like a drawing room from “Downton Abbey.” He billed taxpayers for 170,000 miles on a vehicle that had only 80,000 odometer miles when he sold it. He took personal trips on donors’ private planes and resold World Series and Super Bowl tickets at a profit of more than $42,000.
These weren’t the actions of a conscientious, good-government type.
But federal prosecutors had signaled that they could prove much more. In 2016, they indicted Schock on 22 criminal counts, including wire fraud and falsifying election commission filings.
The feds finally decided they never really had the goods. We’re guessing the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, which took over for the office in Springfield, figured that out.
Or they decided they no longer cared, now that Schock is no longer in Congress.
But there is this:
Federal prosecutors have enormous financial resources and endless time. Their power is formidable. They can break a target just by pressing charges.
We have to wonder, sadly, how much of that went on here.
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