Ethics watchdog hits Schock with new complaint

Ethics watchdog hits Schock with new complaint
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Embattled Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) is coming under fire from an ethics group over new allegations that he sold his home for more than it was worth to a campaign donor.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on Monday filed a second complaint against Schock in as many weeks Monday urging the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate.

“Buying a house from someone for much more than it’s worth is no different than buying someone an expensive gift,” CREW Interim Executive Director Anne Weismann said in a statement. “Given that the buyer in this case was a campaign donor to Rep. Schock whose former employer has also backed his campaigns, the public needs to know what Mr. Bahaj expected in return for his generosity.”

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This comes after a report surfaced Friday from a Democratic news source alleging that Schock sold his Dunlap, Ill., home for $925,000 to campaign donor and former Caterpillar executive Ali Bahaj in October 2012, just a month before the congressional elections.

According to Peoria County records, the market value of the home at the time was closer to $765,720.

“It did sell for a lot higher than we had it valued at,” a source in the Peoria County supervisor of assessments office told The Hill.

Schock did not respond to request for comment from The Hill but told local reporters that the sale was “right in line with” the prices of similar homes sold in his neighborhood and criticized the report.

“The blog post the gentleman just wrote was very hurtful, you know, because it questions my business dealings, but when you’re in this environment, all’s fair,” Schock told the local ABC News affiliate.

But real estate websites like Zillow show comparable homes selling for much less than $925,000.

CREW is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Schock violated federal law during the sale of his home.

On Tuesday, the ethics group called for an investigation to determine whether the congressman improperly used campaign funds and accepted free interior decoration services at his office.

Schock has also attracted criticism for racially charged comments made online by one of his staffers, who lost his job over the flap.