Update: Downton Abbey Congressman Resigns

Photo: Rex USA.
Update March 18, 2015: Facing down even more questions about illicit spending of public money, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock has resigned his seat — and relinquished his crimson-colored office. The new allegations accuse Schock of claiming reimbursement for 90,000 miles' worth of car travel that never took place. The discrepancy is between the 170,000 miles that he claimed to have traveled in his personal car, and the 80,000 miles that were on the odometer when he sold it in July 2014. Looks like someone’s about to need a whole lot of primer paint.

Update February 24, 2015
: A few weeks ago, Rep. Aaron Schock made headlines for re-designing his Congressional office to resemble a room in from Downton Abbey. Now, it turns out that may have been the tip of the velvet-tufted iceberg.  A new report by the AP states the Congressman spent tens of thousands of tax payer dollars on flights on private jets. He's also said to have taken a group of his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry concert and charged for massages.  When the Downtown Abbey story broke, the issue seemed more like an image problem -- a lavish office is a bad look for a Republican who talks a big budget cut game -- but nothing illegal. However, as more evidence comes to light, calls for an inquiry are mounting. At the time, Schock dismissed it the story, telling ABC News "Haters gonna hate." (ABC News) Originally published February 3, 2015: Representative Aaron Schock is basically a super-human. He graduated from college in two years, and got elected when he was just 28. He's the first millennial congressman, the first (we think) to Instagram a selfie with Ariana Grande, and almost definitely the first to show off his super-chiseled six-pack on the cover of Men's Health.  And, now, he's gone and redecorated his office after a room in the Downton Abbey castle.  Ben Terris, aWashington Post reporter, showed up at the congressman's D.C. office for an interview. The woman at the front desk cheerily pointed out the new decor: "It's based off of the red room in Downton Abbey." Terris then bumped into Schock's interior decorator, Annie Brahler, who took him on an impromptu tour. From Terris' account:  "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."
In the ordinary world, you'd say, "Wow, what can't this guy do?" and leave it at that. But, since this is Washington, D.C., it's created something of a PR crisis. As soon as Rep. Schock's team found out Terris was being given the office tour, they tried to get the reporter to delete the photos from his phone.   Why? Because Rep. Schock is a Republican and a fiscal conservative who advocates for reducing spending and cutting the deficit. The idea of him working in an office with "[b]right red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top" is out of sync with the image of financial responsibility.  Congressmen get their basic office furniture from the government, and then have to pay for any additional improvements themselves — so, it doesn't seem Rep. Schock has done anything illegal or even untoward. Just perhaps not totally in line with the image of him he wants out there. But, in the end, politics is a sea of "scandals" real and...less real. We're inclined to see this as the latter and say, "Good for you, Congressman. If you can make your office a castle, make your office a castle." Congress is a sea of beige and taupe. We're sure your bright red walls are a nice reprieve.

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