The Many, Many Problems of 'Downton' Office Congressman Aaron Schock

PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock speaks to reporters before meetings with constituents after a week in which he faced twin scandals, Feb. 6, 2015, in Peoria Ill. PlayAP Photo
WATCH Illinois Congressman Under Fire for Office Decor

Rep. Aaron Schock has had a rough couple of weeks.

It all started when a Washington Post reporter was given an impromptu tour of Schock’s D.C. office by the congressman’s interior decorator, who told him all about the office’s elaborate “Downton Abbey”-inspired décor. When the article ran on Feb. 2, Schock and his unusual office began to receive some unwanted attention.

Had the congressman improperly used his campaign funds to furnish his office? Did he pay his interior decorator, a constituent of his, for her service, or had he violated House rules by accepting it as a gift?

Schock initially tried to brush off the controversy.

“As Taylor Swift said, ‘haters are gonna hate,’” he joked to ABC News on Feb. 4, adding that he fully intended to personally pay his decorator once her work is completed.

Unfortunately, for the 33-year-old Illinois Republican, the controversy was just getting started.

On Feb. 4, the same day he spoke with ABC News, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Schock had violated House rules while setting up his new office.

The next day, his communications director Benjamin Cole, who had initially tried to quash the Washington Post article, resigned after it emerged that he had posted racially insensitive comments on social media in previous years.

Last Friday, Blue Nation Review was the first to report that in 2012, Schock sold his Peoria, Illinois, home to a major campaign donor for several times its assessed property value, which led CREW to file a second complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Schock is already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting contributions in March 2012 for an independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 per donor, in violation of federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct. The Committee on Ethics continues to gather information necessary to complete its review.

Things didn’t let up after the weekend. On Monday, USA Today reported that Schock is one of the top travel spenders in the House of Representatives, having spent more than $100,000 on travel in 2013 alone. Adding to his growing reputation as a lavish spender was an article in Politico, which reported that he had spent thousands of dollars on tickets to the Super Bowl and the Country Music Awards and has spent more than $200,000 on legal services since 2011.

Politico also reported that Schock employs a personal photographer and spent over $100,000 on two new cars for use in his district. According to Politico, his office said it has launched an internal review of thousands of dollars’ worth of reimbursements he’s received for use of the vehicles.

Schock’s litany of woes got even stranger this week, when two men were arrested and charged with attempting to rob his Illinois home. Schock blamed the media coverage of his controversies, particularly a local newspaper, for advertising the fact that the home is vacant while he’s in Washington.

The congressman's office did not respond to a request by ABC News for comment. Last week, he told ABC News that he looks forward to completing his office and opening it up to his residents of his district.

“When it’s all finished,” Schock said, “I’ll be hosting thousands of constituents in my offices as I have the last four years.”

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