An aide to Illinois congressman and one-time shirtless Men's Health model Aaron Schock denies that the Republican used campaign funds to buy exercise DVDs among other egregious conduct, as an ethics watchdog claims.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleges that the 30-year-old lawmaker's campaign committee reimbursed Schock more than $300 for DVDs of the P90X training regimen, classifying them as a health care expense.
CREW's report also claims the campaign reimbursed Schock more than $30,000 for hotels -- including luxury resorts in Greece and Florida -- and gave the congressman's mother almost $24,000 in reimbursements.
Steve Dutton, a spokesman for Schock, told the International Business Times that the fitness-DVD charges were a mistake in a filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Regarding the P90X charge, Aaron Schock personally paid American Express directly for the charge, Dutton said in an email. It was mistakenly reported on our FEC report filed on July 15, 2010. We corrected that mistake when it happened by filing an amended FEC report on July 30, 2010. So that was corrected 20 months ago. The campaign never paid for the P90X DVD.
Dutton said the hotel expenses in Greece's capital, Athens, were also an error that we should have caught but did not until it was brought to our attention. He added that all other reimbursements were for reasonable expenses directly related to either campaign expenditures or fund-raising costs.
Dutton also said Schock's mother was reimbursed by the campaign because she often used her personal credit card to pay for campaign errands. The congressman's office denied she was paid wages for her work.
Schock, the youngest member of Congress and one of only two born in the 1980s, showed off his six-pack abs in the May 2011 issue of Men's Health as an advocate for healthy living.
In the magazine, Schock talked about his exercise regimen of going to the House of Representatives gym for weight training and sessions of P90X, the workout DVD series created by Tony Horton.
When I first saw it I kind of laughed, Schock said of the videos. I didn't think you could get a real workout from a DVD. But at 6:30 a.m., it helps to have somebody talking you through your workout.
Schock decided show off his abs in a photo shoot and team up with Men's Health for its Fit for Life Summer Challenge, in which he encouraged Americans to sign up for fitness plans.
The analysis of Schock's campaign funds is part of a broader report by CREW on how House members use their positions to benefit family members.