The most unfortunate (current) blight on Illinois politics this side of one-percent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has finally come to an end. Multiple sources including POLITICO confirmed on St. Patrick’s Day that scandal-ridden Prairie State Representative Aaron Schock of the 18th District had finally shown himself the door.
POLITICO played a high-profile role in the announcement, as Schock’s resignation arrived a mere 12 hours after the website raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements the Republican had claimed for his personal vehicle. Anyone who bet on the 33 year-old former lawmaker getting booted over his lavish Downton Abbey -inspired Congressional office has suffered a major upset.
Writers Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan of POLITCO reported:
“Schock billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car from January 2010 through July 2014. But when he sold that Chevrolet Tahoe in July 2014, it had roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to public records obtained by POLITICO under Illinois open records laws. The documents, in other words, indicate he was reimbursed for 90,000 miles more than his car was driven.”
Uh oh. The article continues with the understatement, “The discrepancy added to a growing wave of ethical and legal problems for the 33-year-old politician.” The news is a major blow to a GOP struggling to reinvent its national brand as inclusive, diverse, young and vibrant. The party had considered the fallen congressman one of its rising stars and most successful fundraisers.
It has indeed been a busy winter for political gossip involving Schock. The trouble began in early February amid growing whispers about that aforementioned Downtown Abbey office. On the third of the month, Caitlin Dickson of Yahoo! News recounted an uncomfortable run-in between Schock’s staff and Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, who was initially offered a tour of the lavish workspace:
“For a man who bared his chest on newsstands [Paul Ryan – eat your heart out], the rush to shield Schock’s spectacular office from speculation is puzzling. Perhaps his staff was concerned that Schock’s decision to pay out of pocket for elaborate decorations when the House of Representatives provided him with the basics might be seen as contrasting with his fiscally conservative image.”
Apparently the young lawmaker has learned the hard way that the only way to avoid the fiscal hypocrite label is to, you know, not be one. Schock subsequently repaid the government $40,000 in a limp effort to fend off an ethics investigation. But that crack in the dam morphed into a full blown burst with the latest POLITICO whistle blow.
Naturally the disgraced lawmaker would have us believe that he is the victim, yet another fallen soldier on the “gotcha” journalism battlefield. In a statement formally announcing his resignation, Schock declared, “Constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself…I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents, and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”
Schock will remain in office until March 31, which unfortunately gives the people of Illinois two more full weeks of his “high standards.” How much is that going to cost?