Rep. Aaron SchockAaron Jon SchockNew co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials Former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock comes out as gay Now that Aaron Schock is 'out,' he can be a powerful LGBTQ ally MORE (R-Ill.) is dealing with more drama due to his “Downton Abbey”-inspired office decorations.
A government watchdog is calling on ethics officials to investigate the Illinois Republican for allegedly accepting free services from an Illinois interior decorator and paying for new furniture — including a gold sconce, “drippy crystal chandelier” and large arrangements of pheasant feathers — with campaign funds.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, also known as CREW, filed the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday, after a story in The Washington Post described the ornate renovation in Schock’s Rayburn House building office.
Interior designer Annie Brahler reportedly volunteered her services and pulled ideas from the popular PBS British drama series “Downton Abbey.” She had also decorated his previous office in the Cannon House Office Building, where USA Today reported that taxpayers picked up the tab for tens of thousands of dollars for office renovations.
House ethics rules bar members from accepting free gifts or services, or using campaign funds to pay for furniture in their offices.
CREW interim Executive Director Anne L. Weismann called on the ethics office to investigate Schock’s actions and forward the matter to the House Ethics Committee, writing that gifts to members “create an appearance of impropriety that may undermine the public’s faith in government, and may provide the opportunity for improperly influencing members.”
“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,” Weismann said in a statement.
“Again and again, Rep. Schock’s seeming obsession with his image impedes his ability to conduct himself in ethical manner.”
A Schock spokesman did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
The decorations flap is a rare stumble for Schock, 33, a fast-rising GOP star and fitness freak whose chiseled abs landed him on the cover of Men’s Health magazine in 2011.
He’s typically friendly with reporters and has proven adept at leveraging social media: His Instagram account (with 11,200 followers) depicts him meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, hiking glaciers and tangoing in the streets of Buenos Aires.
He was tapped by Majority Whip Steve Scalise last year as one of the Louisiana Republican’s senior deputy whips.
But the recent reports aren’t helpful to his image. The USA Today report says in late 2009 and early 2010, Schock went on a spending spree with taxpayer dollars: He spent $79,061 to buy furniture; $21,000 for new hardwood floors; and paid $7,400 to Illinois firm KBL Design Center. Another $4,000 went to fine-leather furniture company Garrett Leather.