Rep. Schock expects to be cleared in ethics probe

Rep. Schock expects to be cleared in ethics probe

CHAMPAIGN — U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock said Saturday that he believes he will be cleared in an ongoing investigation of possible illegal fundraising in an Illinois Republican primary election last March.

The Office of Congressional Ethics reported that there was "substantial reason to believe" that Schock violated federal laws in seeking campaign contributions greater than $5,000 on behalf of Rep. Adam Kinzinger in his race against Rep. Donald Manzullo.

It has turned the case over to the House Ethics Committee.

The ethics committee has not formed a special panel to further investigate the charges. Nor has it dismissed the case.

"We feel confident that we will have a favorable outcome and so we'll just wait and see," Schock said at a Champaign County Republican Party Lincoln Day luncheon. "We've been complying with all of (the ethics committee's) requests ahead of deadline and we hope they'll come to a conclusion sooner rather than later."

The investigation threatens Schock's political future, which includes either a possible campaign for governor of Illinois or for re-election to the House.

"I sure hope not," he said. "It is a process and in this job people can lodge a complaint against you and they have to go through this long process to adjudicate it," he said.

The case also tangentially affects U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, whose congressional district includes Champaign-Urbana and who the Office of Congressional Ethics report said refused to "provide documentary and testimonial evidence" in response to OCE requests.

"The whole investigation, the whole issue, has nothing to do with me," Davis said. "I've done nothing wrong and I'm looking forward to having everybody look at the report that's online and see the same thing."

He said he declined to talk to the OCE staff "because frankly I wasn't privy to any information about any alleged illegal requests for contributions."

"I chose not to voluntarily chat with the organization last summer. You may recall I was a little busy," Davis said in reference to his 13th Congressional District race last year against Democrat David Gill. Davis won the race by 1,002 votes.

"If the House Ethics Committee wants to ask me questions, talk to me, I'll gladly chat with them. But this group is not the House Ethics Committee," he said of the OCE. "I'm not the only person who decided not to voluntarily talk to that organization."

In fact, three other men described as "witnesses" also "did not cooperate with the OCE's review," said the OCE report. At the time of Schock's alleged wrongdoing, Davis was not a candidate for Congress and was on the political staff of U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

Davis said the investigation points up the need for campaign finance reform.

"There are so many issues that need to be addressed with campaign finance reform. I've said it throughout the entire campaign," he said. "It was set up to make things more transparent and to take large contributions — unreported, undocumented contributions — out. But because of court rulings since then, it's worse than ever. And what you can expect to see so much more unreported, unregulated attacks against me throughout the next two years. All of the stuff we were sick of from the last campaign is coming again."

About $9.6 million was spent in the 13th District race last year.