Downton Abbey Congressman Aaron Schock wants indictment dropped: House rules were ‘inherently ambiguous’
According to Schock’s legal team, The House rules for expenses for elected officials are “inherently ambiguous” and thus, too vague to garner any criminal charges.
“This Court sits to hear alleged violations of the federal criminal code; it does not sit as the Court of Appeals of the House Finance Office. Nor can the Executive fashion itself a super-regulator of the Legislature’s own internal administration,” the motion reads. “By usurping the constitutional prerogative of the House to make and interpret its own rules, the Indictment trespasses the separation of powers.”
Schock was caught using his position as an elected official to score gifts, which he turned into cash by selling them. He also reported reimbursements that he couldn’t prove were actually purchased, including over $100,000 in mileage that was impossible to have achieved. He became known as the “Downton Abbey Congressman” when he charged the government $40,000 to decorate his Capitol office in a Downton style.
Politico explains, Schock’s legal team hopes to make the case that he is constitutionally protected because a clause protects lawmakers from legal consequences related to speeches or debates as well as one allowing the House and Senate to set their own rules.
Prosecutors are expected to argue that elected officials don’t get to give themselves broad protections from prosecution from all laws they deem inconvenient.
The charges are for a misuse of campaign funds which does not fall under a rule in Congress or elected officials.
Schock’s jury trial begins July 10.