The Latest News, Posts, Articles, and Media Appearances from Tully & Weiss

Prosecutors Out of Bounds on Downton Abbey Decorating Scandal

Posted by Joseph Tully | Sep 12, 2017

Aaron Schock

An Illinois Republican Congressman was apparently so enamored of the British TV series Downton Abbey that he allegedly spent taxpayer funds redecorating his office as if he were to that manor born.

Aaron Schock has since resigned from Congress, but questionable expenditures on his part have now turned into questions about possible misconduct on the part of prosecutors. Schock's lawyers want the case dismissed, alleging federal prosecutors asked witnesses if Schock were gay and with whom he may have had sexual relations.

In fact, prosecutors went so far as to investigate whether Schock's former girlfriend, an attorney, and diplomat, was really his sex partner or served as his beard. What the heck does this have to do with whether a representative used taxpayer funds to replicate the look of an English estate?

No matter what you think of Schock or his decorating taste, this line of inquiry is completely out of bounds on the part of prosecutors. The prosecutors admit Schock's sexuality has nothing to do with the case – so why are they pursuing it?

Have taxpayer dollars been spent to satisfy the prurient interests of prosecutors?

In this day and age, are they trying to embarrass a defendant about his sexuality, when it is nobody's business?

The Indictment

Schock was indicted by a Springfield federal grand jury in November 2016 on 24 criminal counts. He is accused of trying to “enrich himself, and others, at his discretion, by embezzling, stealing, misapplying or converting without authority public funds from his Members' Representational Allowance (MRA) and funds from his various committees for his own personal direct benefit and for the direct personal benefit of others with whom he had a professional or personal relationship.”

His trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Charges include wire fraud, false income tax return filing and making false statement regarding his supposed fraud. This is basically Shady Politician Indictment 101, and Schock is just one in a long, inglorious line of pols accused of misappropriating funds for their own or others' personal benefit. The difference is the government's focus on with whom Schock chooses to share his bed.

The whole thing harkens back to the notoriously closeted FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his relentless persecution of homosexuals serving in elected and appointed positions.

Crossing the Line

Schock's lawyers rightfully argue that the government crossed a line “with inappropriate, irrelevant, and highly prejudicial questioning” of witnesses. Where is this coming from? Are they trying to prove that only women and gay males watch shows like Downton Abbey – and so what?

In the Running for U.S. Attorney

Does this bizarre investigation into Schock's sex life have anything to do with lead prosecutor Tim Bass' desire to become the next U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois?

As of now, Donald Trump hasn't nominated anyone for this vacant position.

Schock, now 36, was once the golden boy of Illinois Republican politics. Is his treatment by the prosecutors a not so subtle indication that gays aren't welcome in the state of Illinois' Republican party?

This is all speculation, of course. But, let's face it, pols are under indictment all the time for profiting at public expense. How much time and effort do prosecutors take delving into someone's sex life when that doesn't appear to have any relevance to the case? For example, there's no evidence Schock was spending money on prostitutes. Or is the government trying to turn back the clock to a time when “gay” and “pride” were mutually exclusive terms?

All too often, prosecutors can be driven by not only bias but downright meanness as well. The evidence is very strong that AUSA Tim Bass has a personal grudge out for Schock due to Bass' perception that Schock might be gay. In America in 2017, we are sick and tired of corrupt politicians like Schock in Illinois, the hometown of former President Obama and so much political corruption. We welcome the prosecution of corrupt politicians, as long as they are treated fairly. Someone's sexuality does not provide a further basis for prosecution.

Trial Scheduled for January 2018

Schock's trial is scheduled to start in January 2018 in Urbana. No matter what the outcome, details of his sex life should have no bearing on the trial and shouldn't be introduced into testimony. The prosecutors, in this case, have behaved in such a despicable manner that it, once again, makes us wonder about the future direction of law enforcement in America.

My book California: State of Collusion is coming out in January, perhaps my second should be America: Is Prosecutorial Misconduct the Problem or A Canary in the Mine?

About the Author

Joseph Tully

Founding Partner, Criminal Law Specialist Our founding attorney, Joseph Tully, is sought out for his expert legal advice throughout California. With over 20 years of experience as a criminal lawyer, in 1000+ felony and other cases, Tully served as felony trial counsel as a public defender before...