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'Downton Abbey' Congressman Aaron Schock Resigns

In this Feb. 6, 2015 photo, Rep. Aaron Schock speaks to reporters in Peoria, Illinois. Schock personally reimbursed $40,000 in congressional office renovations after a news report revealed the lavish-looking decorations. (Photo: AP/Seth Perlman)

As they say at Downton Abbey, things seem to keep happening that nobody could imagine just a short time ago. And so it is with today’s announcement of the resignation of Illinois Republican Congressman Aaron Schock. As I recently wrote here at Bill Moyers.com, the career of the up-and-coming, prodigious GOP fundraiser drastically veered off course after The Washington Post reported early last month that an interior designer had redecorated his Capitol Hill offices in an over-the-top, opulent style more reminiscent of Downton than downtown Peoria in his home district.

Once people stopped laughing at the office makeover, closer attention began being paid to the representative’s financial dealings, including real estate transactions, and his spending proclivities, often at taxpayers’ or his political party’s expense. Those purchases ranged from pricey trips to tickets for sporting events and concerts and even included $5,000 for an official podium that appears to be a replica of one used by President Obama. Earlier this week, Politico reported that investigators from the Office of Congressional Ethics were making preliminary inquiries that could have led to an official investigation. Schock’s departure apparently now makes such an investigation moot.

In his official resignation statement, Schock said, “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. I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”

Rep. Schock will remain in office through the end of the month. No plans for a special election have been announced but the seat has been safely Republican for many years.

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Michael Winship

Michael Winship

Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship

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