Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns After Reports on Spending Habits

WASHINGTON (Tribune Washington Bureau/TNS) -

Rep. Aaron Schock is resigning his seat in Congress, saying in a statement issued Tuesday that “constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction” and have made it “too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th district.

The 33-year-old Illinois Republican from Peoria had been considered a rising star in Washington, but has been dogged by controversy over spending of campaign and taxpayer money.

Schock’s statement read as follows:

“Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31.

“I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington. I have given them my all over the last six years. I have traveled to all corners of the District to meet with the people I’ve been fortunate to be able to call my friends and neighbors.

“But the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself.

“I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”

Schock, the first person elected to Congress who was born in the 1980s, won a fourth term in the House in November.

As he came under increasing scrutiny in the last six weeks the lawmaker enlisted two veteran Washington lawyers for an internal review of his office and political operation.

Considered an adept practitioner of social media, his many posts of photos of himself in far-flung locales fueled controversy over how he was spending his time and money.

Schock visited at least nine foreign countries since the start of 2014, sometimes on government business and sometimes for pleasure, a Tribune review found. His penchant for travel has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, ever since The Washington Post wrote about the redesign of his congressional office. Schock subsequently repaid $40,000 from his personal checking account for the redecorating work, The Associated Press reported.

The lawmaker still faces allegations that he did not properly account for his trips and did not conform to requirements on the use of private aircraft.