Ethics officials are examining the office of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) following weeks of headlines about the manner in which he has spent from his taxpayer-funded account for official expenses.
According to a source familiar with the review, the Office of Congressional Ethics is reviewing the collection of issues raised by reports that started with a $40,000 tab on decorating his Capitol Hill office in the manner of the PBS show "Downton Abbey" and continued into personal finances and travel expenditures.
The OCE, as it's called, is a team of eight investigators, led by a former military prosecutor, and it usually conducts the first probe of potential misdeeds. It lacks subpoena power but makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee, which serves as the formal investigator and can issue punishment to lawmakers.
Schock's office and advisers declined comment. The lawmaker has publicly said that his new team of legal advisers -- including Don McGahn, a former chairman and member of the Federal Election Commission, and a public relations team of former senior GOP aides -- are reviewing his official taxpayer funds, his political accounts and trying to determine whether the funding was not done properly.
“As I’ve said before I take my compliance obligations very seriously,” he told a local news affiliate in Peoria, Ill., on Friday. “I've hired a team of professionals to review all of our filings including the head of the Federal Election Commission.”
Schock's saga began Feb. 2 when The Washington Post reported about the expansive office redesign modeled after the British TV show with a cult following on PBS. The interior designer offered the services for free and that prompted liberal watchdog groups to cry foul, that it was an inappropriate gift, so last month Schock paid from his personal finances $40,000 to cover the cost.
Schock, 33, has landed in trouble with the OCE investigators in the past. Back in 2012 the office issued a 166-page report alleging that Schock helped raise money above the federal legal limits for an independent group to run ads in support of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a fellow next-generation lawmaker considered a potential star in the state's delegation.
Kinzinger, 37, was thrust into a primary against a veteran Republican incumbent by redistricting, and Schock helped raise funds for outside groups on Kinzinger's behalf. That OCE report prompted the full House Ethics Committee to open an investigation but it never moved beyond the preliminary stage. That review has remained publicly dormant since February 2013.
Schock told local reporters Friday that he's taking the entire process seriously but stressed that it was a matter of "compliance."
“I take my compliance obligations very seriously and so I think it's important for me to make sure that everything was done correctly and that's what we have done," he said.