Taxpayers Pay Big for Rep's Downton-Style Office

Aaron Schock's new office digs are getting some notice
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2015 2:27 PM CST
US Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., speaks during a campaign rally outside the State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014.   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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(Newser) – Rep. Aaron Schock, an up-and-comer previously best known for baring his six-pack on the cover of Men's Health, has a new claim to fame in the form of his interior decor: It seems the Washington Post's Style reporter Ben Terris popped by the Illinois rep's digs in the Rayburn House Office Building, and ran into Schock's interior decorator, who showed him around. Terris describes the outer office thusly: "Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top." "It's actually based off the red room in Downton Abbey," an aide helpfully told Terris of his outer office. The rest of Terris' piece describes Schock's team trying to squash the story. USA Today took the ball and dug back to 2009 and 2010 and found about $118,000 in office expenditures—including $4,000 on fine-leather furniture and $79,061 on other furniture—that Schock billed to a taxpayer-funded account.

Which is turning into kind of an upstairs-downstairs conundrum: While it's not yet clear how much the Downton renovation cost, Schock's interior decorator says she worked for free, thus saving the taxpayer—but prompting CREW to file an ethics complaint claiming that Schock illegally received a gift. "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," says CREW’s executive director, per NBC Chicago. "Again and again, Rep. Schock’s seeming obsession with his image impedes his ability to conduct himself in ethical manner." The other irony being widely noted: Downton airs on PBS, which Schock has repeatedly voted to de-fund. Schock has yet to comment.

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