(This post has been updated.)
Furthering our colleague Ben Terris’s dead-on assessment that “Washington has always been more ‘Veep’ than ‘House of Cards’,” Rep. Aaron Schock’s choice of post-Edwardian era office decor has made him the subject of an ethics complaint.
Because it is a day ending in “y,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wasted little time asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Schock (R-Ill.) broke House rules by accepting professional interior design work for free. House Ethics rules prohibit lawmakers from accepting free “gifts of services.”
Terris on Monday visited Schock’s newly decorated D.C. office, painted red and accented with antique looking frames and sconces situated to create a gallery wall that would make any Pinterest-enthusiast drool. But Schock didn’t pick out the Downton Abbey-inspired motif himself – he left that in the hands of interior decorator Annie Brahler, who has her own company called Euro Trash.
Brahler offered her expertise for free to the congressman, though he paid for the goods, Schock’s office told Terris. Schock’s spokesman Benjamin Cole – who tried to convince Terris not to write about the office aesthetics in the first place – had no comment on the CREW complaint.
“Rep. Schock may wish he could escape to an earlier era, but the Office of Congressional Ethics needs to ensure he doesn’t outrun the rules of this one,” Anne Weismann, CREW’s interim executive director said in a statement.
Since his office was exposed, Schock has claimed he’s never seen “Downton Abbey” – the British soap opera that, as the Guardian points out, runs on public television. (Republicans aren’t big fans of government-subsidized TV.)
Whether his new digs are deemed unethical or not, the flashy decor sure bucks stuffy Capitol Hill norm. Lady Mary would be proud.
Updated at 6:45 pm: USA Today politics editor Paul Singer went through Schock’s public office expenditures from previous years and found he’d spent around $100,000 on office furnishings. Those totals wouldn’t include this new renovation if he did use taxpayer dollars to pay for his fancified office.