Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Dowager Congressman Is In Hot Water

Y’all remember Illinois Representative Aaron Schock, right? He, of the turquoise belt and the gingham blouse as picnic wear? He, of the newly decorated Congressional offices done up a la Downton Abbey? Hence the title, ‘Dowager Congressman.’

Well, it appears that Schock’s lavish spending has caught up with him because he’s currently under investigation to see if he used taxpayer monies or campaign funds to travel the globe, throw lavish parties, take his staff to see Katy Perry, and buy himself a $75,000.00 truck.

And I fear it will get uglier before it’s over, and apparently so does Schock, as he has just hired a pair of big-shot DC defense attorneys  and a public relations firm  to respond to a potential ethics probe over how he pays for his fabulous turquoise belted life. And now come the rumors that Schock used his campaign and office accounts to pay for pricey first-class travel and accommodations on a trip he took to London nearly four years ago as part of an annual event featuring Prince Charles.

The Dowager Congressman is in full Scandal mode — where’s Olivia Pope, when you need her — saying, via a spokesman, that he is conducting an internal audit of his office staff to review his spending practices:
“After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC. The purpose of the review is to identify any areas that need improvement and to assist with designing and implementing any changes. The congressman takes his compliance obligations seriously, which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures.”
I love how they call it proactive; I mean, wouldn’t it have been more proactive had the audit been done before all the questions arose? This is more like backpedaling to cover one’s ass.

And this all started from that trip to London in 2011. Schock traveled with his longtime friend Shea Ledford — now on Schock’s payroll as a district special assistant — and stayed at Claridge’s, where the cheap rooms start at $500.00 a night. He also did some shopping Moss Bros., one of London’s more upscale clothiers, and attended the Royal Ascot, followed by drinks with then-U.S. Ambassador to England Louis Susman. He also participated in a Patron Dinner at the members-only club Annabel’s and was invited to formal dinners at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace … with Lord and Lady Grantham. Perhaps?

Oh, and he missed two days of Congressional votes during the trip.

To be fair, the trip included events organized by the nonprofit Prince of Wales Foundation, but it was not an official government trip and it was not reported as a gift. And even through their internal audit, The Dowager Congressman’s office would not, or could not, say if Schock personally paid for any part of the trip. Huh; you think that’d be easy to prove. Whip out a credit card statement; bring the canceled checks.

House rules require the Ethics Committee to sign off on any trip paid for by a private source, such as the Prince of Wales Foundation, a group which is refusing to comment on the matter at all. But, if the trip was approved by the Ethics Committee, Schock would have had to disclose the itinerary and who paid for it, and also declare it on his annual financial disclosure form.

Aaron Schock, the Dowager Congressman, never reported the trip.

Aaron Schock’s spending habits have been under the microscope for a while now, mostly due to his own need to post pictures of himself in exotic locations on his Instagram account, and it is now become clear that this London trip wasn’t the only glitch in Schock’s political spending kerfuffle.

Also in 2011, Schock took a 10-day trip to Saudi Arabia, along with Republican Representatives Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming; a trip paid for by Saudi Arabia’s antiquities and tourism commission.

House members and employees may accept travel paid for by a foreign government without review by the ethics panel, but, again, they must disclose such trips taken under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act on their annual financial disclosure forms.

Stutzman and Lummis listed the trip; Schock did not.

It looks like Aaron Schock doesn’t follow the rules, as others do, and likes to take fabulous trips, and buy himself pretty clothes — though never again a turquoise belt — and eat at wonderful venues and go to fabulous parties all the while missing votes … you know, part of the job for which the people of Illinois elected him.

But then a Dowager Congressman would never assume the rules applied to him.


Helen Lashbrook said...

Given that the Prince of Wales foundation is nominally a charity I fail to see why it would be funding a US congressman to visit UK. Audits of yourself rarely come up proving you other than squeaky clean; it's when the official auditors come in that the politicians start to sweat.

the dogs' mother said...

Surprising in this day and age they think they can get away with it still.

Mark in DE said...

Unfortunately, this is not at all surprising to me. I think many, many politicians believe they can get away with nearly everything (some have gotten away with murder) especially when they have the money to hire big shot defense teams. Very sad, but not at all surprising.

Blobby said...

the belt was cerulean.

that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.


Bob Slatten said...

Miranda? Is that you?