Former lawmaker Aaron Schock officially off federal hook, could run for office

If he was a star quarterback, the question would be: "Aaron Schock, you've just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next?"

But the only question for the former congressman from Peoria after federal prosecutors dropped their corruption case against him on Wednesday, was: "Will you be running again for public office?"

Schock wasn't at the courthouse to answer it or available at all.

He was given a waiver from being present for what was just a formality, but a monumental one for the ex-GOP rising star.

Under terms of an extraordinary deal that Schock cut with the U.S. attorney's office last March, he had six months to fulfill his part of the bargain: repay his campaign committees nearly $68,000 and finalize a tax payment with the Internal Revenue Service for income he didn't report between 2010 and 2015.

With that apparently complete, the deal is done and Schock officially has a clean record.

The felony rap sheet that he could have carried if the case had resulted in a conviction will never happen. Without a criminal history, he is now free to run for public office, if he chooses.

"I don't know what the future holds but I'm looking forward to being able to resume some semblance of a private life and looking for ways to contribute to society," Schock said in March, leaving the door open for another campaign.

Despite resigning from Congress in 2015 after his "Downton Abbey"-style office was exposed on Capitol Hill, and being indicted a year later, Schock's political committee has remained intact. Last May, after re-certifying the Schock for Congress campaign committee, there were reports that he was going to mount a new election effort.

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However, Schock doused that speculation, saying on one of his social media pages that the campaign committee had been around for years.

He told the Peoria Journal Star that the filing was not an indication he was going run again. He said he was merely cleaning up the committee paperwork and listing himself as treasurer.

As of Wednesday, there was less than $33,000 in the Schock for Congress account, according to federal election records.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Chicago declined to comment after court on Wednesday. The most recent on-camera comments from Schock in March will have to stand: "There was never any intent by me or my staff to commit crimes."

And from his D.C. attorney George Terwilliger: "It began with a bang and that turned out to be a blank. Now it's ending with a whimper."
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