US congressman Aaron Schock resigns amid lavish money spending scandal

World Today

Outside the office of Aaron Schock, R-Ill., as a staff member enters his office after Schock announced his resignation from Congress on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Republican congressman Aaron Schock said he would be stepping down from his position in the U.S. House of Representatives effective March 31st amid an investigation into his office’s spending.

In February the Washington Post wrote about a renovation done at Schock’s Capitol Hill office which was reportedly based on a design seen in the British television series Downton Abbey. An allegation that Schock denies. In the Washington Post report, they describe an office that is painted to have “Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s eye mirror with an eagle perched on top. And this is just the Illinois Republican’s outer office,” the Post wrote. His staff told the Post the design work was done for free, but it caused further speculation. Several reports came out that Schock and his team failed to reveal certain expenditures and he repaid money after using taxpayer funds improperly. The Associated Press reported that Schock repaid the US government $40,000 for the office renovation.

Schock was recently in the spotlight after his communications director resigned over racist comments he made on social media.

The 33-year old lawmaker from the U.S. state of Illinois was considered a rising star when he was elected in 2008. At 27-years old he was one of the youngest congressmen to be elected in recent U.S. history at the time. The national American daily newspaper USA Today said Representative Schock was one of the top travel spenders in the U.S. House, even out-flying the two senators that represent his state of Illinois.

Schock is no stranger to the media. The fitness enthusiast first gained national attention when he appeared shirtless on the cover of a popular U.S. men’s magazine. His Instagram feed (now private) is filled with photos of his travels around the globe. As of Tuesday, the congressman made the account private after all of the media coverage on his resignation. CNN reported that Schock billed taxpayers more than $24,000 for eight private flights in 2011 and 2012 on a plane owned by Schock donor Darren Frye.

An outside panel, called the Office of Congressional Ethics, is reviewing the congressman’s spending. The panel receives complaints against representatives and makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee

A special election to fill Schock’s seat will be held. “This is a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District,” Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said in a statement.

Report compiled with information from the AP, Reuters and CNN