FBI launches probe of 33-year-old former rising GOP star Aaron Schock
By Colin Campbell, March 20, 2015
The troubles continue to come for outgoing Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois).
According to Friday reports in the Associated Press and CNN, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened up a criminal investigation to determine whether Schock broke the law with some of his spending activities.
Among other things, Schock faces accusations that he accepted improper gifts, used campaign funds for personal purposes, improperly billed the government for travel expenses, and used taxpayer funds for lavish trips for his staff.
According to an AP source, federal investigators are already issuing subpoenas to potential witnesses.
"Investigators are focusing on Schock's House office expenses, expenditures by his re-election campaign, and his personal investments aided by long-time political donors," the AP reported. "The owner of an air charter service in Peoria confirmed on Friday that he had been contacted by an ethics investigator interested in Schock's extensive flights on planes owned by campaign donors. Harrel W. Timmons, owner of Jet Air Inc., said the investigators wanted to know about Schock's flights on a plane owned by D&B Air, another firm owned by a prominent Schock donor in Peoria."
The 33-year-old congressman suddenly announced his intent to resign on Tuesday.
Here's an overview of some of Schock's questionable activities:
- Schock reportedly hired a donor's wife to decorate his office, which inspired comparisons to the popular drama show "Downton Abbey." The Washington Post described the outer office entry room like this: "Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull's-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top." His own private office had "a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers," according to the newspaper. (The interior designer denied the design was influenced by "Downton Abbey.")
- Schock hired a professional photographer to "document his life for Instagram" as he traveled the world, according to Politico. His page is now private, but the Post reported that the photos showed him "surfing, hiking across glaciers, tangoing on the streets of Buenos Aires, and smiling next to duck-faced pop star Ariana Grande."
- A political action committee associated with Schock paid a massage parlor $1,440 for a fundraising event, according to the Associated Press.
- Records also show that Schock took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry concert in Washington, the AP reported.
- Schock claimed reimbursements for 170,000 miles he says he drove over a period of about four years, but he sold the only vehicle he owned during that time with just 80,000 miles on it, according to Politico.
- The left-leaning organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which releases a list of the most corrupt members of Congress every year, claimed that Schock received reimbursements from his campaign fund for P90x workout DVDs, expensive meals, and travel abroad to Europe.
- Schock was also known for enjoying "posh hotels and private jets," according to Politico. His preferences were so extravagant that they drew the attention — and eyerolls — of fellow Republicans.
- In a possible signal of his aspirations for the future, Schock spent about $5,000 on a replica of President Barack Obama's podium, according to BuzzFeed.
A Schock spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on the reported investigation. However, in his resignation statement, Schock insisted he maintained high standards for his office.
"The 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," he said at the time. "I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve."