Six years after winning election to Congress at just 27, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, long seen as one of the GOP's brightest rising stars, is resigning in disgrace.
Politico reports that Schock -- who has faced a string of unflattering revelations concerning his spending habits and may have broken financial disclosure laws -- will step down at the end of the month:
“Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31,” Schock said in a statement. “I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington. I have given them my all over the last six years. I have traveled to all corners of the District to meet with the people I’ve been fortunate to be able to call my friends and neighbors.”
“But the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficultfor 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,” he said in a statement.
Mounting evidence that Schock charged taxpayers and campaign donors to fund his high-flying lifestyle triggered a probe by the Office of Congressional Ethics, and the soon-to-be-ex-congressman has also hired two prominent criminal defense attorneys.
Once touted as a top prospect for statewide office, Schock has looked like a political dead man walking for several weeks. Few could have foreseen it at the time, but a cheeky Washington Post story on Schock's Downton Abbey-themed office decor helped catalyze his downfall; within days of the story's publication, it emerged that Schock had improperly billed taxpayers $40,000 for the redecoration. A drip-drip-drip of similar revelations followed.
Under Illinois law, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) will set a special election to fill Schock's seat. His Peoria-based district is expected to remain in Republican hands.