Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Resignation of Aaron Schock

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Congressman Aaron Schock R-Illinois has resigned from the House of Representatives. This comes just a few weeks after Washington Post writer Ben Terris wrote a story about Schock's Congressional Office, which was lavishly decorated to resemble the sitting room on the show Downton Abbey. Terris showed up and was given a tour by the designer herself, and that should have been the end of it. But Rep. Schock himself refused to talk about the decor, and that raised red flags, then his communications director got all huffy about the tour. Terris wrote the story anyway and it went viral.

From Ben Terris, Washington Post
A blond woman popped out of an inner office. “Want to see the rest?” she asked.

She introduced herself as Annie Brahler, the interior decorator whose company is called Euro Trash. She guided me to Schock’s private office, revealing another dramatic red room. This one with a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers.

Then, my phone rang.

It was Schock’s communications director, Benjamin Cole.

“Are you taking pictures of the office?” he asked. “Who told you you could do that? . . . Okay, stay where you are. You’ve created a bit of a crisis in the office.”

A staff member then came and asked me to please delete the photos from my phone. So started a day of back-and-forths with a congressman’s office about interior design.

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After the story was picked up by all the national media, reporters began to find anomalies in his other expenditures, including reported mileage reimbursements on his cars, and asking about his political donors. Schock couldn't stand the heat in Downton Abbey's (I mean Washingon's) below-stairs kitchen, so he quickly got out.

From Politico
llinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.
Schock billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car from January 2010 through July 2014. But when he sold that Chevrolet Tahoe in July 2014, it had roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to public records obtained by POLITICO under Illinois open records laws. The documents, in other words, indicate he was reimbursed for 90,000 miles more than his car was driven.
. . . Schock’s resignation marks a swift downfall of one of the GOP’s most promising young stars and prolific fundraisers. The former state legislator was elected to Congress in 2008 and shot through the ranks of the House GOP, at one point gracing the cover of Men’s Health magazine. He was a fresh face in a party eager to update its image.
But as his prominence grew, Schock adopted an expensive lifestyle — staying in luxury hotels, dining at pricey restaurants, flying on private jets. Mounting questions about how he paid for it eventually caught up with him.

From Yahoo
. . .In a statement confirming his resignation, Schock said that “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. I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”
Those “constant questions” all started with a February story on the Washington Post’s website that, at first, seemed like little more than a quirky anecdote. But upon closer inspection, the story raised eyebrows and, as Schock mentioned, real questions. Lots of them.
Washington Post reporter Ben Terris went to interview Schock at his office last month and found himself surrounded by deep-red walls, gold wall sconces, and pheasant feathers. The room's ornate decor had been based on that of the set of the popular PBS period drama, “Downton Abbey,” a woman who turned out to be Schock’s decorator told Terris.

Washington Post: "The self-destructive mania of Rep. Aaron Schock"
. . . Schock’s choice of that vibrant color underscored his lifelong determination to go big and brash. According to a review of newspaper clippings going back to when he was a teenager in Peoria, Ill., Schock always pushed for more, more, more — and to be the youngest to ever have it.
It’s a characteristic that propelled Schock to be the youngest school board member, the youngest Illinois state legislator, one of the youngest members of Congress. It pushed him to work out so hard it looked painful, to clog his Instagram profile with action-star theatrics, to get into business hot and early because that’s what Aaron Schock does. He wins. He takes risks. He’s bold, like his bright-red office.
. . . But looking back at Schock’s history, his preternatural drive is unsettling, even for a politician. Schock didn’t want two phone lines. He wanted six. He didn’t want one credit card in middle school. He wanted 13. He wasn’t satisfied graduating high school in four years. He didn’t want to just sit on the school board — he wanted to be its president. He wanted to be the youngest everything. Health wasn’t enough. He needed a six-pack. He didn’t want his office to be beige. He wanted it red.

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