Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Aaron Schock is packing up his six-pack of steel for the long trip back to Peoria (or maybe someplace gayer?)


A parting peek at the beauteous Aaron?

by Ken

Probably we're spilling way too much virtual ink over the now-presumably-foreshortened political career of Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, who as you know announced today that he's resigning from Congress in the face of the ever-tightening inquiring into his finances.

In our earlier "breaking news" post (link above), Howie already gave us Aaron's parting statement to the people of Illinois's 18th CD, and Howie told us who the local GOP is likely to slot into the slot they seemed pretty happy to have Aaron slotted in until he flaked out on them.

Here's what the Washington Post team of Mike DeBonis, Robert Costa and Paul Kane reported earlier this afternoon:
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who in a matter of weeks went from a fast track to national prominence to beset by numerous reports of spending misdeeds, announced his resignation from Congress on Tuesday.

Schock, 33, had endured weeks of headlines about the manner in which he has spent from his taxpayer-funded account for official expenses.

The Office of Congressional Ethics had commenced a review of his spending, The Washington Post reported Monday, after 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.

An OCE probe is considered a first step in addressing 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 did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The lawmaker had appeared to be preparing to weather the media storm, hiring a 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 -- to review his official taxpayer funds, his political accounts and determine whether any spending or fundraising was amiss.

“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 allege that it was an inappropriate gift. Last month, Schock paid  $40,000 from his personal finances to cover the cost.

That incident prompted a flurry of stories about his use of private charter planes that he says are to get around his district, concert ticket purchases, trips overseas and other forms of travel.


We had a lot of fun here with the bizarre saga of Aaron's Downton Abbey-themed new office (here, for example, and here), but he brought it on himself with behavior that put him in the glare of the searchlights. It's not as if odd behavior is exactly unknown among the denizens of Capitol Hill; it's just that you're supposed to know how to keep it out of the papers. Similarly, while Aaron seems to have made a mess of his financial dealings, does anyone believe that his actual financial extractions were anything but small potatoes by normal congressional holdings. Again, though, he doesn't seem to have grasped the basic lesson that there's a way of doing these things.

I suppose it's possible that who he thought he was went to his head, and he thought he was really somebody, rather than a harmless enough boy who was rendering service to the local Republican elite back home in Peoria, which in exchange provided him with a nice safe seat, which should have been his to hold as long as he wanted it, and the trappings of being a Big Deal, including controlled friendly local media.

Oh yeah, there were people who thought Aaron maybe could be more, that he maybe coulda been a contender, because he was young and personable -- and, oh yes, beautiful. As far as I could see, that's about all he was (for sure, when he opened his mouth, he was in trouble), but are we sure that isn't enough? Haven't major careers been built on less. I don't know why the name of Dan Quayle pops into mind, but let's go with it. He defeated a man of real substance, Birch Bayh, to take a place in the Senate, and got to be vice president, and he wasn't nearly as pretty as Aaron.


Of course if Aaron might ever have risen higher, eventually something would have had to give with the problem of his sexuality. Not his actual sexual preference, whatever it is, but the clumsy obfuscation. Which is the other reason for attending to the rise and fall of this particular pol. Assuming he's gay, and it's sure hard to shake the assumption, his example suggests that the closet is becoming a less safe place from which to operate a political career.

The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies and David Hyde Pierce --
Sunday night's shocking news was that Frank Prady is not gay!

Which calls to mind the striking disclosure made in Sunday's Good Wife episode by Alicia Florrick's opponent in the race for illinois state's attorney, Frank Prady (a lovely run for David Hyde Pierce), who have tried committing themselves to running a (relatively) honorable campaign. In shocking confidence, Frank revealed to Alicia that -- gasp! -- he's not gay! The candidate, after all, had taken some public punishment over his presumed sexuality. No, said Frank, not gay but Jesuit -- having been married and failed at it, as an unflinching Catholic old-schooler, that road was closed to him.

The startled Alicia naturally asked why he hadn't simply explained. And he explained that the gay rumors hadn't hurt him too much, whereas his people were quite concerned about alienating the gay vote. I liked that.

Of course Peoria is in Illinois, but it can't be said that it is Illinois. Still, it's interesting to think that maybe there are more votes to be had trusting the public to deal with gayness as opposed to quaking in terror of their wrath.

The best outcome for Aaron himself, assuming he is gay, maybe what happened when onetime NJ Gov. Jim McGreevy was forced out of his closet. As he himself was the first to say, it finally freed him to be who he is.

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At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems an highly uncharacteristically short period before capitulation for an publicly exposed congressional criminal?!?

John Puma

At 9:02 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Agreed, John. And note in the WaPo report that at first Aaron, or at least his office, seemed to be digging in, bringing in the appropriate troops for a protracted fight.

I have to guess that it's some combination of Aaron being made to understand just how foolishly blatant he'd been (if the Office of Congressional Ethics was going to have him dead to rights, then the one good place for him to be was out of Congress and beyond its reach) and Aaron sort of tumbling to the fact that he was generally in over his pretty head in this politics stuff.


At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh what a tangled web......

if only it were this easy to get all the thieves and liars in DC to resign. Not having the ability to feel shame is a big advantage when you are trying to gain notoriety and stature in politics. if you haven't honed that talent, you better be CLEAN and free or really thick skinned with no thought but for your power goal.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It'd be nice to get rid of Senators "Butchmeup" Graham and McConnell the Closet Turtle. Also.

Of course they deserve to be thrown out on their butts* more for what they have done to our country than for hiding in their wardrobes, but whatever it takes.

* Fuckers belong in prison, for that matter.


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