Federal prosecutors and the FBI are now investigating if embattled Congressman Aaron Schock illegally used campaign finances. In a surprise announcement last week, Schock said he would resign by the end of the month. Now that he's in trouble with using money that wasn't his to spend, what exactly did Aaron Schock buy?
Ben Terris, reporter for the Washington Post's style section, authored a piece on the decor of the Schock's office. When he entered, it was a bit elaborate. The desk attendant said: “It’s actually based off of the red room in Downton Abbey." Seriously. OK, fine enough, the guy likes his period dramas. A lot. This isn't the problem, though. The reported problem is that the money for such furnishings came from the taxpayers.
In 2009, Schock hired an Illinois based design company for $7,400, as well as $21,000 for a contractor, who likely put in hardwood floors and granite or marble countertops. Naturally, he needed $6,600 worth of paint to go with. But wait, there's more. You might want to sit down for this one — $79,061 for furniture. Yeah. Some of the pick-ups? They included a specialized hardwood podium and fine-leather furniture.
Now, it's normal and totally legal for a member of Congress do some decorating.The official handbook for members says:
Ordinary and necessary expenses related to the acquisition of items for use in offices are reimbursable from the applicable office funds.
It's one thing to slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls and make sure the place looks decent. But luxury items like specialty podiums and granite don't really fit the description.
Schock also has expensive travel tastes. Over $30,000 was allegedly spent on high end hotels in Athens and Florida. But Schock's team said any inclusion of the trip to Greece as a campaign expense was a mistake. Hmmm. It's not like all of this information magically ends up in filings with the Federal Election Commission. It's reported.
Not everything the congressman allegedly illegally spent money on was a big ticket item. In 2012, Schock bought P90X with campaign funds. He wrote it off as a "healthcare" expense. The congressman might have bought the product to get ripped, but now his integrity is being ripped to shreds. Zing.
Schock didn't just purchase goods, he also supposedly filed reimbursements. Schock counted milage on his car for official business — for 172,520 miles. Yeah, that alone causes some suspicion. He claimed the reimbursements from both the federal government and from his campaign. When he turned in his car to a dealership in 2014, the car only had 81,860 miles on it. Yikes.
Wow. There isn't a lot to say other than this sort of action by an elected official is disturbing. The American people deserve better.
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