A rising star in the Republican party, who had his eye on a seat at the House leadership table, has announced his resignation following questions about reimbursements and improperly used funds.
While corruption watch groups and journalists have long been pointing out the expensive tastes and questionable spending habits of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois), it all finally caught up with him when the Office of Congressional Ethics launched an ethics review into his practices.
Schock faces accusations that he used taxpayer funds to pay for travel expenses and lavish trips for his staff, improperly accepted gifts, and misused campaign funds.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Schock said these accusations and questions were a “distraction” that have “made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself.”
The 33-year-old became the first member of the US Congress who was born in the 1980s when he took office in 2009 and has now become the youngest member of the House or Senate to resign from Congress early because of alleged wrongdoing, according to The Washington Post.
When he first came to Congress, Schock reportedly “raised a lot of money and spent it at a rapid clip,” according to sources who spoke to Politico.
Unnamed associates of Schock’s told Politico that, as the news outlet phrases it, “a combination of immaturity, sloppiness and an oversized ego led to his downfall.”
Here’s an overview of some of the most egregious allegations of Schock’s expensive tastes, penchant for media attention, and alleged misuse of funds:
- Schock posed for a spread in Men’s Health magazine in 2011, showing off his six-pack. Here’s how Men’s Health described Schock: “When he strolls into a New York City studio for his photo shoot, Schock isn’t sporting the typical boxy clothes that Beltway insiders wear in order to hide what’s stretching their belts. Instead, he’s decked out in a form-fitting Zegna suit and tapered shirt that show off both his musculature and his fashion savvy. He looks more like a hit man from a European spy thriller than a boring politician.”
- Speaking of good suits, Schock also posed for GQ in 2009. The magazine wrote that Schock “proves you can maintain an appropriate — and appropriately all-American — wardrobe on Capitol Hill while sending a slightly more progressive fashion message.”
- Schock reportedly hired a donor’s wife to decorate his office, which inspired comparisons to the popular drama show “Downton Abbey” (photos below). The Washington Post described the outer office entry room like this: “Bright red walls. A gold-coloured wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top.” His own private office had “a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers,” according to the newspaper. (The interior designer denied the design was influenced by “Downton Abbey.”)
- Schock hired a professional photographer to “document his life for Instagram” as he traveled the world, according to Politico. His page is now, unfortunately, private, but the Post reported that the photos showed him “surfing, hiking across glaciers, tangoing on the streets of Buenos Aires and smiling next to duck-faced pop star Ariana Grande.”
- A political action committee associated with Schock paid a massage parlor $US1,440 for a fundraising event, according to The Associated Press.
- Records also show that Schock took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry concert in Washington, the AP reported.
- Schock claimed reimbursements for 170,000 miles he says he drove over a period of about four years, but he sold the only vehicle he owned during that time with just 80,000 miles on it, according to Politico.
- The left-leaning organisation Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which releases a list of the most corrupt members of Congress every year, claimed that Schock received reimbursements from his campaign fund for P90x workout DVDs, expensive meals, and travel abroad to Europe.
- Schock was also known for enjoying “posh hotels and private jets,” according to Politico. His preferences were so extravagent that they drew the attention — and eyerolls — of fellow Republicans.
- In a possible signal of his aspirations for the future, Schock spent about $US5,000 on a replica of President Barack Obama’s podium, according to BuzzFeed.
Here’s a look at Schock’s “Downton Abbey”-esque office:
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