Originally published on March 19, 2015, at NationofChange.org
To avoid a congressional ethics investigation into allegations of corruption, Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois announced his resignation from Congress on Tuesday. Caught failing to report gifts and charging taxpayers for lavish trips, Schock finally decided to step down when the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) began interviewing people close to the congressman. Although the House Ethics Committee will no longer have jurisdiction over Schock, the Justice Department could file criminal charges against him.
On February 2, The Washington Post published an article describing Rep. Schock’s remodeled office decorated in the style of PBS’s “Downton Abbey.” Because Schock’s interior decorator, Annie Brahler, had offered her services for free, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint accusing Schock of accepting an improper gift. Although Schock eventually paid $40,000 from his personal finances to cover the cost, the media attention and his own self-promotion prompted further investigations into his extravagant lifestyle.
Appearing on the cover of Men’s Health while posting photos of himself on Instagram hiking across glaciers, surfing, and hanging out with Ariana Grande, Schock flagrantly flaunted a lifestyle well beyond his pay grade. Since first running for office in 2008, Schock has raised over $10.8 million in campaign contributions without ever facing a serious opponent. Between December 2009 and February 2010, Schock charged taxpayers more than $100,000 for decorations and renovations to his office.