PEORIA — The federal judge presiding over a legal tussle over former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock’s financial records cancelled a hearing Friday to see if the Peoria Republican should be held in contempt for not complying with her orders.
U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough ordered Schock on Thursday to send her about 3,000 records that he claims are outside the purview of a subpoena issued by a grand jury investigating allegations of fiscal misconduct. If she find the records are relevant, they will be released to federal prosecutors.
Also, the judge wanted Schock to send her documents that he claims are protected by attorney-client privilege, a claim prosecutors said in a memo yesterday was “highly suspect and unfounded.”
The move comes after a flurry of filings this week including one on Thursday where Schock’s attorneys took the government to task, saying the issues regarding the financial records are the government’s making, not their client’s. The U.S. Attorney’s Office could have sought records directly from the House of Representatives as the Peoria Republican had given permission to the clerk there to hand over the records but chose not to, the attorneys wrote in their sharply-worded memo.
“Rather than either seek the records directly from the Clerk or give Mr. Schock the act of production immunity to which any witness in these circumstances would be entitled under the Constitution, (federal prosecutors) elected to engage in extensive litigation to force Mr. Schock to take possession of the records from the Clerk and produce them himself without immunity, going so far as seeking his incarceration for contempt simply because he was asserting a constitutional right guaranteed to every citizen,” the 16-page memo states.
While the memo’s content isn’t surprising — Schock’s attorneys have maintained for months prosecutors should have just gone through the House — it did highlight the sniping and the divide between the two sides.
All week, the two sides have lobbed legal insults at each other regarding whether Schock was refusing to cooperate.
Schock’s attorneys say they have complied with all the requests and through a spokesman said that “repeated contempt accusations are a distraction and unfounded.”
Prosecutors apparently disagree and have twice asked the judge to hold Schock in contempt and possibly send him to jail.
As such, the judge asked both sides to submit their arguments in writing next month. She also deferred ruling on the legal theory of whether Schock must hand over records or not.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.