When my father dropped me off at the U.S. Capitol for my first day of work 35 years ago, he made sure to let me know that lawmakers in Congress were not some lofty breed of American.
“They call it the House of Representatives for a reason,” my father intoned as he drove me up to Capitol Hill.
“There are good people and bad people; smart people and dumb people,” he said, making it clear that many elected officials had the same type of weaknesses and foibles as the average voter.
Some were good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Others were out to make a buck for themselves.
We saw that story line repeated on Tuesday by Rep. Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, who had been under increasing scrutiny over how he was spending taxpayer dollars.
Washington (AP) – Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock abruptly resigned Tuesday following a month long cascade of revelations about his business deals and lavish spending on everything from overseas travel to office decor in the style of “Downton Abbey.”
The stories about Schock had started to become too numerous to ignore in recent weeks. Among them:
+ Questions about whether he sold his house back in Illinois for more it was worth to a Republican donor
+ Spending money on private jets to fly him around his district
+ $40,000 to redecorate his Capitol Hill office in a Downton Abbey theme
+ Excessive spending on overseas travel, which at times involved Schock bringing along a personal photographer
But the final straw evidently was something simple, as Politico began nibbling at whether Schock had wrongly filed for thousands of dollars in vehicle mileage claims.
It was a sudden fall for the 33 year old Schock, who conceivably could still face some kind of criminal investigation about his spending.
Schock did not give a heads-up to GOP leaders about his decision to resign on March 31.
“With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first,” said Speaker John Boehner.
Schock is the second Republican lawmaker to resign in recent months from the Congress. Republican Michael Grimm of New York resigned at the end of last year after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion charges.
My father sent me an email this morning about the Schock resignation.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” he wrote.