POLITICS

Watchdog Group Claims Aaron Schock's 'Downton Abbey'-Inspired Office May Have Violated House Ethics

02/03/2015 06:49 pm ET
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WASHINGTON -- A watchdog group said on Tuesday that it thinks there's nothing dapper about the "Downton Abbey"-inspired office decorations of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday after The Washington Post reported that Annie Brahler, an interior decorator, designed Schock's office for free.

In its complaint, CREW says that by accepting the gift, Schock violated House rules, which prohibit members from accepting gifts, including "gifts of services."

While Schock's office told the Post that the congressman paid for the furniture himself, CREW says that he may have used campaign funds to pay for it, which would also violate House rules.

A representative from Schock's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Even if Schock did pay for the furniture properly, he has shown that he has expensive taste in furniture in the past. In 2010, for example, he spent $79,061 on furniture, which included over $5,000 paid to a company that specializes in hardwood podiums, USA Today reported.

According to CREW, Schock's 2012 campaign paid Hoar's company $5,522 for "office equipment." In Tuesday's statement, CREW said that the Post's revelation that Hoar also designed Schock's old congressional office "strongly suggests" that Schock used campaign funds to pay for office furniture. That link, the group says, also "raises questions about whether he used campaign funds to pay for the furniture in his new office."

It's not the first time that Schock has been suspected of running afoul of congressional ethics rules. In 2013, the House Ethics Committee investigated allegations that Schock had improperly solicited money for a Super PAC. In that case, the Office of Congressional Ethics found "substantial reason to believe that Representative Schock violated federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct."

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