Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns From Congress Following ‘Downton Abbey’ Office Scandal
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) has resigned from Congress amid rising controversy and increasing questions about his use of taxpayer money.
Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns
Schock announced that he was resigning from Congress on Tuesday. “I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life,” Schock said in his announcement. “I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington. I have given them my all over the last six years. I have traveled to all corners of the District to meet with the people I’ve been fortunate to be able to call my friends and neighbors,”
“The constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has 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 lawmaker added.
Schock’s fall from grace began back in early February after his Downton Abbey-inspired office at the Rayburn House Office made headlines. In addition to the nontraditional red walls, Schock’s office boasted gold wall sconces, arrangements of pheasant feathers, a crystal chandelier and a Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror.
Ben Terris, the Washington Post reporter that covered the initial story, had no idea that his style reporting would turn into a full-blown political scandal.
“I tried to write as gleeful a story as I could about how image-obsessed D.C. is, and I thought all I was doing was writing a tiny little snippet of This Town,” Terris told New York Magazine, referring to Mark Leibovich’s book. “And it turned into this three-week scandal that I literally never saw coming.”
“Writing about somebody’s office is the least important thing I could imagine doing. It seemed so silly that my instinct was not to write about it at all in the first place,” Terris added. “It wasn’t until it became, in their words, ‘a crisis’ that I had to write about it, because it became funny.”
The Downton Abbey office “crisis” ended up being just the beginning. In addition to questions about how Schock funded the renovations at his Washington office, there were questions about how he paid for the renovations back in Illinois as well. Even more troubling was his allocation of funds on travel, as he spent $100,000 in 2013 alone.
“In the old records I found the hardwood floors, the leather furniture and the granite counter tops worth $100,000, and thought ‘okay, this is weird.’ That became a story about his lavish office spending. Those same records had all the charter flights listed – also weird, given how few House members fly charter,” said USA Today‘s Paul Singer to NYMag. “So then we had the story about how much he was spending on travel. And that led to the question ‘Who do these airplanes belong to …’ and now we think he might have broken the law. It really is basically ‘for the want of a nail a horse was lost …”
Yesterday, a report about Schock billing the federal government and his campaign for mileage reimbursements for more than double the mileage that was recorded on his vehicle at the time it was turned in ran on Politico.com. He reportedly logged 170,000 miles between January 2010 and July 2014, but his car only had about 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to the outlet.
Schock had tried to do some damage control during the past month, paying the government back $40,000 he had used from his office budget for his Downton decor. He also paid taxpayers back for using his office account to fly to a Chicago Bears game on a private jet, which cost about $1,200.
Schock will officially step down from his congressional seat March 31.
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