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Aaron Schock Ponies Up $35,000 in Personal Funds for 'Downton Abbey' Office

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Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) has repaid the government $35,000 from his personal funds for his eyebrow-raising Downton Abbey-inspired office decor, USA Today reports:

Office"As he said he would, Congressman Schock has fulfilled his commitment to pay for all the renovation costs of the 18th Congressional District office in Washington," said a statement released by Schock's office Friday. "Even though office expenses are often covered by the Member Representational Allowance, the Congressman believed it appropriate to pay these costs himself as part of the office review process."

USA TODAY has reported that Schock had spent more $100,000 than of his taxpayer-funded account on office renovations in prior years. The expenses included thousands for leather furniture, hardwood floors and marble countertops for his offices in his central Illinois congressional district.

Past flamboyant expenditures on Schock's part include private flights on donor planes, a trip to see Katy Perry with the interns, and massage parlors. 

Previously, "Jon Stewart Shreds Aaron Schock with Instagram Montage Set to Taylor Swift: VIDEO" [tlrd]


Jon Stewart Shreds Aaron Schock With Instagram Montage Set to Taylor Swift: VIDEO

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This week we reported on the continuing travails of Aaron Schock, whose Downton Abbey-inspired office set in motion a series of inquiries about his mishandling of funds.

Not only has his interior decoration money trail been questioned, and certain suspicious real estate deals, but this week the AP uncovered a string of questionable travel expenses by using the Congressman's Instagram photos to pinpoint when and how he arrived at the exotic destinations he flaunts on his social media account.

Schock this week lawyered up to defend himself, but his most well-known response to all the digging up till now has been to quote Taylor Swift, telling an ABC News reporter, "Haters are gonna hate."

And Schock last night finally got the Daily Show treatment he deserved.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Jon Stewart Shreds Aaron Schock With Instagram Montage Set to Taylor Swift: VIDEO" »


Aaron Schock Hires Legal Team In Response To Allegations Of Mishandling Office Funds

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Republican representative Aaron Schock has been the subject of heightened scrutiny after reports surfaced pointing to his office spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a extravagant trips and concert tickets for his staffers. Interest in Schock’s spending habits first piqued earlier this year after pictures of his newly-renovated, Downton Abbey-themed office began to circulate.

The office, which “takes inspiration” from Downton’s iconic red sitting room, is estimated to have cost nearly $100,000 to design and furnish. Naturally, the extravagant room almost immediately caught the eye of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) who filed an ethics complaint.

Ig“I'm different. I came to Congress at 27. And so, I'm also not going to live in a cave,” Schock told ABC news. “So when I post an Instagram photo with me with my friends, as Taylor Swift said, 'haters are gonna hate.'"

While Schock’s luxurious tastes in decor raised eyebrows and reignited those pesky gay rumors, the latest accounts of his spending could have much larger legal implications. By the congressman’s own admission, he frequently covers the travel expenses for his staffers during scheduled trips to events with constituents and fundraisers.

Those types of expenses are to be expected, but they also subject to strict rules and expected to be properly approved by the House Ethics committee. Most of Schock’s, it would appear, were neither.

Many of the flights Schock and his staffers took appear to have used for travel were owned by campaign donors and thus were technically private flights, that House rules forbid lawmakers to pay for using office funds. Beyond dubious flight costs, Schock is also known to have paid for an outing with office interns to a sold out Katy Perry concert in Washington--again, with campaign funds.

As the media’s interest has grown, it’s become clear that Schock’s mishandling of funds has been more than a common occurrence. A lengthy Politico report details a number of big budget purchases and trips abroad that seemingly have no congressional justification. In response to the rising allegations, Schock has lawyered up and enlisted the help of a D.C. public relations firm in preparation for a potential ethics investigation.

“After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC,” an office representative explained. “The purpose of the review is to identify any areas that need improvement and to assist with designing and implementing any changes. The congressman takes his compliance obligations seriously, which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures.”


Rep. Aaron Schock Real Estate Sale to GOP Donor Questioned

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Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock's week continues to go downhill, following revelations that his Downton Abbey-inspired office redecoration may have been done for free. CREW filed an ethics complaint about the office this week.

Yesterday, Schock's senior aide Benjamin Cole resigned after several blogs uncovered racist Facebook posts he had written in 2013.

Now, Blue Nation Review is examining what they're saying is a shady real estate sale Schock made to GOP and Schock donor Ali Bahaj – then a Vice President at Caterpillar – and his wife Gloria, selling his home to them "more than three times the tax assessed value of the property."

BNR adds:

Congressman Schock has carried water repeatedly in Washington, D.C. for Caterpillar, even going on FOX News …to defend the company against what he claimed were “outrageous” attacks that “demonize” the company for avoiding $2.4 billion in taxes by shifting profits to a Swiss subsidiary. In fact, just last month, Schock defended the company’s move to lay off workers by blaming the problem on President Obama – a statement that earned him a rebuke from the State Journal-Register in Springfield.

What else could possibly turn up?


Aaron Schock Quotes Taylor Swift When Cornered About 'Downton' Office: 'Haters Gonna Hate' — VIDEO

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Jeff Zeleny of ABC News cornered Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) on Capitol Hill on the way to a meeting and asked him about his Downton Abbey-inspired offices and the way he paid for their redesign. Schock has been hit with an ethics complaint after the interior decorator Annie Brahler (who also said that the offices were inspired by Downton) told a Washington Post reporter that she had done them for free (accepting services as a gift is a violation of House rules).

Schock told Zeleny that he's "never been an old crusty white guy" and that's why the offices are so colorful, telling the reporter that his last offices were "Democratic blue".

Added Schock:

“I'm different. I came to Congress at 27. When I go take a personal vacation I don’t' sit on the beach, I go do active things. And so, I'm also not going to live in a cave. So when I post an Instagram photo with me with my friends, as Taylor Swift said, 'haters are gonna hate.'"

Schock continues to claim that he has never seen an episode of Downton Abbey.

Watch Schock shake it off, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Aaron Schock Quotes Taylor Swift When Cornered About 'Downton' Office: 'Haters Gonna Hate' — VIDEO" »


Rep. Aaron Schock Hit With Ethics Complaint Over 'Downton Abbey' Office, Accepting Free Services

The Office of Congressional Ethics has been asked by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to investigate whether Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) violated House rules by accepting free interior decorating work on a 'Downton Abbey'-inspired office which was the subject of a Washington Post article published yesterday.

SchockCREW reports, via press release:

The redesign was provided by Anne Brahler, an interior decorator from Illinois, and her firm, Euro Trash. A member of Rep. Schock’s staff told the Post Ms. Brahler “offered her services for free.”  Ms. Brahler also redesigned Rep. Schock’s previous congressional office.

“Perhaps it’s not totally surprising that the same congressman who spent campaign money on P90X workout DVDs wanted to create a more picturesque setting in which to be photographed, but the rules clearly require him to pay for those renovations himself,” said Anne Weismann, CREW’s Interim Executive Director.  “Again and again, Rep. Schock’s seeming obsession with his image impedes his ability to conduct himself in ethical manner.”

House rules broadly prohibit members of Congress from accepting gifts, which are defined in the rules as any “item having monetary value,” including “gifts of services.”  The rules explicitly prohibit members from using “outside private donations, funds, or in-kind goods and services” to pay for their congressional office expenses.  Only appropriated funds or a member’s personal funds may be used for these purposes.

Read the ethics complaint HERE.

Also, under investigation is whether Schock used campaign funds to pay for his office furniture:

CREW reported in 2012 that Rep. Schock’s campaign paid $5,522 to Ms. Brahler’s company for what it described as “office equipment.”  Today’s revelation that Ms. Brahler redecorated Rep. Schock’s previous suite strongly suggests Rep. Schock used campaign funds to pay for the furniture in that office — a violation of House rules — and raises questions about whether he used campaign funds to pay for the furniture in his new office.

Read our post about Schock's 'Downton' office HERE.


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