- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Facing inquiries over his use of office funds and other financial discrepancies, embattled Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Republican, said Tuesday he’s resigning from Congress at the end of the month.

“I do this with a heavy heart,” Mr. Schock, first elected to Congress in 2008, said in a statement.

He said serving the people of Illinois’ deep-red 18th District is the greatest honor of his life and that he has “given them my all over the last six years.”

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

House Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement that Mr. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first with the decision.

“I appreciate Aaron’s years of service, and I wish him well in the future,” Mr. Boehner said.

Mr. Schock, who has served on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Committee on House Administration, did not notify House Republican leaders before making the decision.

A recent Washington Post report about Mr. Schock’s Downton Abbey-style decor in his office helped prompt further inquiries into the congressman’s spending.

Mr. Schock, 33, had attracted media attention as a young, telegenic member of the House GOP ranks who once posed shirtless for a Men’s Health cover and who has made frequent use of social media.

News of his resignation was first reported by Politico, which reported that Mr. Schock reimbursed the government $40,000 for the office redecorations and reimbursed taxpayers $1,200 after using his office account to fly on a private plane to a Chicago Bears game.

And the AP reported that the Office of Congressional Ethics has begun contacting Schock associates as part of an apparent investigation into the congressman’s business dealings, though the independent panel would lose jurisdiction once Mr. Schock leaves office.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will not have the power to appoint a replacement, but instead must call a special election within five days of the resignation’s effective date of March 31. The election must occur within 120 days of that effective date.

According to The Associated Press, state Sen. Darin LaHood will announce his candidacy Wednesday.

Democrats immediately pounced, saying that with news of Mr. Schock’s resignation, Mr. Boehner’s Republican Congress “continues its epic implosion.”

“Fewer than 100 days in, Speaker Boehner has already seen his Speakership challenged, his caucus defiantly reject him time and again, some of his closest colleagues retire rather than watch their reputations dragged down by the gridlock and dysfunction, and now the second member of his caucus has resigned amid ethics scandal,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Thornton.

The Thornton statement also was referring to former Rep. Michael Grimm of New York, who announced his resignation in December following a guilty plea to a single count of tax evasion.

Illinois’s 18th District covers western and central parts of the state, including Peoria and Springfield. Mr. Schock won his most recent re-election with about 75 percent of the vote.

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