Friday, March 31, 2017

Sure, He's Guilty But Is Aaron Schock Being Railroaded?


I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of politicians going to prison. In fact, helping male sure Duke Cunningham wound up in prison was one of the reasons we started DWT originally. As woefully rare as it is, I love it when corrupt politicians get caught and see their miserable lives shattered and ruined and then wind up on a prison cell. Especially conservatives. And I was a fan of Aaron Schock's ruin over the last couple of years. This link includes the 2015-2017 posts. But there's a new twist in the twisted tale of poor Aaron.

Tuesday the Associated Press ran a wire story that the government spied on the congressman. It creeped me out. It sounds like one of his staffers,Bryan Rudolph, his Peoria district office manager, was persuaded to wear a wire and to steal "a trove of emails, credit card receipts and other documents that violated the now-indicted congressman's constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure."
[I]n court documents filed late Tuesday, Schock's attorneys say the government went too far when it transformed the staffer into an informant and required him to wear a wire to secretly record conversations-- in addition to providing more than 10,000 pages of legislative emails, staff rosters, employee records and confidential documents from Schock's district office the defense considers to be stolen property. The informant rummaged through the desk of Schock's chief of staff and taped conversations with other staffers, the attorneys said.

...Schock's attorneys say the FBI used the informant to get around restrictions on what a federal agent would not have a right to search and seize. The documents suggest Schock's attorneys will move to have the case dismissed by citing, among other things, alleged illegal searches and prosecutorial misconduct.

Using an informant is not uncommon in public corruption cases, but they tread a fine constitutional line, said Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the Schock case.

"The problems may occur when or if this informant crosses the line starts gathering information at the request of law enforcement that he or she should not be looking for," he said. "When you add a sitting congressman to the calculus it becomes even more fraught with peril."
I asked every member of Congress I know on the House Judiciary Committee if this is fair. No one wanted to talk about it on the record. One member, on condition of anonymity said that "the answer is somewhat complicated. Normally, DOJ and the FBI would not spy on a Member of Congress regarding official business, because of separation of powers concerns, but they probably would say that this was not regarding official business. (There was a big stink over the CIA breaking into House computers a few years ago.)  Aside from that, the courts often rule that anything that a government agent asks a witness to do is the same as the agent himself doing it, which would raise an unreasonable search or seizure issue. In this case, however, under DC law, anyone can take any conversation that he or she wants, so technically, neither the witness nor the agent was doing anything wrong. There still might be an issue of entrapment, depending on exactly what the witness said to the Congressman. Legalese aside, it stinks. Most investigators I’ve known would never say 'go get me this,' regardless of whether the target is a Member of Congress or not."

I wonder if someone is throwing this case so Schock never had to go to jail. Another congressmember e-mailed me that she "didn’t realize [when I first asked her] that the staffer involved was a district staffer, not a DC staffer. It’s a crime to record a conversation in Illinois. If that’s where it happened, then both the staffer and the FBI agent should be investigated and prosecuted."

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At 2:24 AM, Blogger Mf Lehman said...

No matter how disgusting their conduct may turn out to be, Congresscritters absolutely must be able to trust their staffs and the confidentiality of their communications with all of their staffers. DC is already a rat's nest of spies, casual surveillance and backstabbing for credit. Making this legal – even for an asshole like Schock – will just heap fuel on the funeral pyre of democracy.


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