After a nearly 20-month federal investigation by not one but two grand juries, Schock got indicted Thursday on 24 criminal charges, ranging from theft of government funds to making false statements and filing false tax returns. The ambitious 35-year-old accused of running his congressional office like a personal-money-making machine. Schock said in a statement he'll fight the charges, just as he's spent the past year fighting being the laughingstock of Washington.
Really, Schock can't help but fight.
Before Schock even came to Congress, before Schock even graduated from high school — hell, before Schock had even gotten to high school — his ambition was so bare it was unsettling, as my colleague Terrence McCoy so eloquently chronicled this past year.
Traces of that ambition have stuck around even after the rising GOP star's political career imploded.
When Schock resigned from Congress last year after furor over his snazzy renovation of his Capitol Hill office, he compared himself to Abraham Lincoln.
When Schock broke his self-imposed social media ban in January, he did it to defend himself from critics who had, it's safe to assume, long forgotten about him. (Washington has a short memory when it wants to.)
(A quick break for some background: The Washington Post's Ben Terris first wrote in February 2015 about Schock's elaborately designed office. Schock's team's unusually defensive response led to a host of investigations by political reporters into his exotic vacations on the taxpayer dime and questionable real estate deals. Schock — known in Washington as “the abs congressman” for posing shirtless in men's magazines — was out of office a month later, at age 33.)
When Schock came under federal investigation for his use of social-media-documented travel and real estate deals, he brushed any wrongdoing off as “honest mistakes.”
“Like many Americans, I wanted to have faith in the integrity of our Justice Department,” he said. “But after this experience, I am forced to join millions of other Americans who have sadly concluded that our federal justice system is broken, corrupt, and too often driven by politics instead of facts.”
Read between the lines, and you see that Schock is a man who considers himself down but not out. Perhaps it comes with the territory of thinking so highly of yourself.
Except this time, even he may have to admit he's out.
As I wrote earlier this year before the indictment, it's not impossible Schock could make a comeback. But it would require a careful, exacting rehab of his image.
For someone like Schock, who has weathered a public disgrace, rehabbing his image is a slow — and often excruciating — process. He appears to be dipping his toe into that water now. In the future, though, I'd recommend Schock stop trying to re-litigate what drove him out of Congress and instead spend his time trying to figure out whether (and how) he can salvage his once-promising political career.
An indictment takes things in the opposite direction, undoing whatever image rehab Schock may have spent the past year attempting.
Schock is making clear that he intends to fight these charges. Fighting is what Schock does.
We have to wait and see what happens in the court of law to know Schock's legal future. But we probably don't have to wait very long to know Schock's political career is definitely over. It's something even he will have a hard time denying now.