From The Washington Post:
The Rayburn House Office Building is a labyrinth of beige offices.
And then, there’s . . . Rep. Aaron Schock’s new digs.
Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top. And this is just the Illinois Republican’s outer office.
“It’s actually based off of the red room in ‘Downton Abbey,’ ” said the woman behind the front desk, comparing it to the luxurious set piece at the heart of the British period drama.
A blond woman popped out of an inner office. “Want to see the rest?” she asked.
She introduced herself as Annie Brahler, the interior decorator whose company is called Euro Trash. She guided me to Schock’s private office, revealing another dramatic red room. This one with a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers.
Schock, 33, is one of the rising stars of the Republican Party. He’s young, has six-pack abs that landed him on the cover of Men’s Health and is a prodigious fundraiser.
An office decorated in a unique way would hardly be surprising; it would just be another interesting fact about a congressman who has built a brand as not just another politician. So why was this a crisis?
From THINK PROGRESS:
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) recently had his House office redecorated in the style of the popular television series Downton Abbey. But a detail in the post — the fact that the interior decorator who oversaw the design did so for free — may land the Congressman in ethical hot water.
According to the report, interior decorator Annie Brahler designed the plans for Schock’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building. “Brahler offered her services for free, according to Schock’s office, although he had to pay for the objects.” She also had designed his old Cannon House Office Building workspace.
House rules prohibit Members of Congress from accepting most gifts valued at $50 or more — including “gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.”
Poor Aaron. Maybe Anna can make him feel better as she helps him dress for the next session of Congress.
From USA Today:
Schock has spent tens of thousands of dollars from his taxpayer-funded accounts on renovations, leather furniture and even granite countertops, according to congressional expenditure reports.
There is no telling how much Schock paid for the renovations of his Capitol Hill suite — the House takes a few months to publicly report current expenses — but in prior years, Schock appears to have spent tens of thousands of dollars on office renovations and furnishings from his taxpayer-funded account.
Schock’s spokesman did not return emails seeking comment or an explanation of the various expenditures, so it is not clear precisely what the expenditures were for.
In December 2009 he paid $7,400 to an Illinois design/build firm called KBL Design Center, and then another $21,000 to a hardwood floor company, a building contractor and company called Old World Granite and Marble that apparently makes high-end countertops. He then spent $6,600 on an Illinois painting contractor.
Two months later, Schock spent $79,061 on furniture purchases, including $5,123 from a company called Mulnix Industries that specializes in hardwood podiums.
Around the same time, Schock spent more than $4,000 with a fine-leather furniture company called Garrett Leather.
All of the expenditures came out of Schock’s taxpayer-funded office account, which lawmakers can use to buy office furniture and pay for renovations.
Let’s hear it for fiscal conservatism!!!!!