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‘Downton Abbey’ Illinois Ex-Congressman Aaron Schock on 24-Count Indictment: ‘I Simply Cannot Believe It Has Come to This’

Former Illinois Republican Congressman Aaron Schock, who was tagged in the media for decorating his office in the style of the English TV series Downton Abbey, says he has been indicted on 24 counts of political corruption related to his misuse of congressional office maintenance funds.

“These charges allege that Mr. Schock deliberately and repeatedly violated federal law, to his personal and financial advantage. Mr. Schock held public office at the time of the alleged offenses, but public office does not exempt him or anyone else from accountability for alleged intentional misuse of public funds and campaign funds,” said Central District of Illinois U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis.

Lewis said Schock allegedly generated income to himself, which resulted in a loss of more than $100,000 to the government, Schock’s campaign committees, and others. In addition, Schock is charged with filing false federal income tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2015, for failure to report additional income he received.

“Unlike some politicians, I did not delete any emails, nor did my staff smash or destroy any electronic devices,” said Aaron J. Schock, who resigned from Congress after the decorating scandal became a national flash point.

“Quite the opposite, every record, every document, every picture on the wall was left behind. I took nothing with me. I knew I had nothing to hide, and I believed that a quick review would prove this fact,” he said. Schock and his legal team made their remarks at a Peoria, Illinois press conference.

Schock’s attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, said the Justice Department was expected to announce the indictment three weeks ago, but held back, so as not to be accused of making a political indictment just before Election Day.

“We expect you will see today an example of the misuse of that power and it threatens unjustifiably to crush this young man’s life,” the attorney said.

“Prosecutors are supposed to investigate crimes, not – as happened here – investigate a person, so as to see if they can find or create a crime with which to charge someone,” said the man, who served 15 years in the Justice Department, including tours as deputy attorney general and acting attorney general.

A source familiar with Schock’s defense told Breitbart News that Schock, who belongs to a wealthy family, repaid all expenses associated with his office’s operation and all travel allowances and reimbursements he received during his tenure on Capitol Hill.

The source said the railroading of Schock out of Congress and possibly into court is part of a larger story involving a family rivalry between the Schock’s and the LaHood’s. President Barack Obama’s Transportation Secretary Raymond H. LaHood held the same congressional seat before joining the president’s cabinet. In the 2015 special election to replace Schock, the secretary’s son Darin M. LaHood won the seat back for the family. LaHood defeated Breitbart News’ late editor Michael Flynn in the GOP primary.

The former congressman was one of the rising stars in the Republican Party. Before his March 31, 2015 resignation from Congress, Schock sat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and was a senior deputy whip. The previous year he chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual fundraising dinner, bringing in $15 million for the the House Republicans’ political wing.

Schock said if the Justice Department does indict him it is a miscarriage of justice and way out of proportion to mistakes in judgement that were in no way violations of law.

“After the government realized there was no crime, they chose to spend the next 19 months, using two grand juries and millions of taxpayer dollars – in an attempt to manufacture a crime,” he said. “I simply cannot believe it has come to this. However, we are here not by my choosing. But since we a here where we are – I intend to not only prove these allegations false, but in the process, expose this investigation for what it was.”

There is no way he or anyone on his staff broken the law, he said.

“As I have said before, we might have made errors among a few of the thousands and thousands of financial transactions we conducted, but they were honest mistakes – no one intended to break any law. We worked tirelessly in my office to serve the constituents of this district and I will always be proud of that fact,” he said.

“I am eager to finally defend my name and reputation in a court of law and move on with my life. I have learned a painful lesson in this investigation – our own government cannot be trusted. But the people can be trusted. And we will put my future – once again – in the hands of the good people of this community,” he said.

Terwilliger said he will mount a vigorous defense against what he described as a criminalization of politics with all the markings of a political ambush.

“After 19 months of investigating every minute detail of his life, this Democrat Administration waits until just after a national election to bring a devastating indictment against a man who was a rising Republican star, working way overtime for his constituents – and we are supposed to believe it’s not political?” he said.

“This case smacks of the same political maneuverings in the federal justice system that we have seen way too much of in this administration.”

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