Embattled Congressman Aaron Schock, R-Ill., said he can’t say for certain whether he broke any laws amid a financial disclosure and gifts scandal that started to engulf him in February, Politico reported early Wednesday morning. Facing calls to resign, Schock allegedly used thousands of dollars in campaign money to pay for dinners and hotel stays that he didn’t report on financial disclosure forms, including one case where he said he paid for software but the vendor said the funds were actually for flights on a private plane to a Chicago Bears game and events in his Illinois district.
Asked if he thought he broke federal rules or laws, Schock said, “Well, I certainly hope not. I’m not an attorney,” according to Politico. Schock, who once graced the cover of Men’s Health as “America’s Fittest Congressman” in 2011, is one of the youngest members of Congress at 33 and was considered a rising star in the GOP for his fundraising ability, according to the Washington Post. But the scandals, including thousands of dollars he paid to make his Capitol Hill office appear like a “Downton Abbey” set and allegations that he received gifts but didn’t report them, may lead to his downfall.
Schock, who previously told Politico that some of his financial disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission need to be corrected, said he takes his “compliance obligations seriously” and said he would cut down on private flights and staying in luxury hotels after the scandal broke over the so-called Downton Abbey Office in the Washington Post last month.
“Well, I think what’s clear is that it’s better for me to do fewer events in my district and drive to them than it is to rent a plane and try to get to more events in my district,” he said. Still, he defended his use of paying for pricey hotels, saying the fancy digs were needed to help raise money.
“A lot of the events that I do are fundraising events at nice restaurants or nice hotels, and the reason for that is because that’s where you raise money,” Schock said. “So to ask that question of me separate from somebody else who’s a big fundraiser or an effective fundraiser, I would simply say, ‘You’re going to do the most successful events possible.’”
Schock wouldn’t specifically say whether he was being singled out by the press, but he said other members of Congress have campaign and office spending reports that aren’t squeaky clean. “I think that when you have six years of campaign reports and six years of [congressional office spending] reports, that whether you look at my reports or you look at any member of Congress’ reports, I’m sure that you can find a story to write about any member of Congress,” he said.