WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois announced he will resign on March 31 following questions about spending by his office and campaign.
“The constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve” the residents of his district, Schock said in a statement Tuesday.
Schock, 33, is in his fourth term. He is a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and a senior deputy Republican whip, responsible for helping leaders count votes.
House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement that Schock “has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first. I appreciate Aaron’s years of service, and I wish him well in the future.”
Schock has faced scrutiny over expenses, including whether he properly disclosed and reimbursed spending for vehicle mileage and private plane flights. Media attention began after the Washington Post reported last month that his office was redecorated in the style of the British television show “Downton Abbey.”
Since mid-2012, the House Ethics Committee has been investigating whether Schock may have solicited campaign contributions for a so-called independent expenditure-only political committee in excess of $5,000 a donor. That would be a violation of federal law, House rules and standards of conduct, said the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent watchdog panel that referred the case.
Schock didn’t inform House leaders before announcing he’ll resign, said a senior House Republican aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, said in a statement, “This is a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District.”
Schock is the second House Republican to resign his seat during this session. Former Rep. Michael Grimm of New York resigned in January after pleading guilty to a federal tax charge on Dec. 23.
Other veteran House Republicans have announced they are retiring at the end of the session, including Reps. Candice Miller of Michigan and Chris Gibson of New York.
Schock was first elected in 2008, and became the first member of Congress born in the 1980s. He appeared on the cover of the June 2011 Men’s Health magazine with his shirt unbuttoned, showing his buff abdomen.
Schock’s seat is located in central and western Illinois and includes Peoria and Springfield.
Chief Deputy Republican Whip Patrick McHenry of North Carolina said he wasn’t aware of Schock’s decision and said his departure will be “a real loss.”
“This is a seat that Romney won with 61 percent in 2012 — it’s not a plausible Democratic target,” said Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of the Sabato’s Crystal Ball election handicapping website at the University of Virginia. Mitt Romney was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
Illinois Sen Richard Durbin, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, said Schock’s youth was his trademark, though “he needed some experience and some advice and some wisdom to make some important decisions.”
“The allegations against him are serious, and they include suggestions that he misused not only campaign funds but office funds as well,” Durbin said. He noted that former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., an Illinois Democrat, is serving prison time on charges related to misuse of campaign funds.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement that Schock’s resignation was evidence of an “epic implosion” of Boehner’s Republican House.
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