House Speaker John Boehner said he was “stunned” by Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock’s resignation this week after a series of stories about improper office and campaign spending. But he maintained there are “ample controls” in place to police members actions.
“If somebody’s going to violate the rules, you know, they’re going to violate the rules. And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called Schock’s actions “so outrageous and so unusual.” While she said his transgressions weren’t a reason to “trigger” new requirement, she said there needs to be more education about the ethics rules for House members.
“I think it would be important for members to have members and their families and their staffs to have the ethics training, and the responsibility is with the member,” Pelosi said Thursday.
Boehner told reporters he hasn’t spoken with Schock, whose resignation is effective on March 31.
Questions about Schock’s financial accounting came after a Washington Post profile reported the Congressman spent lavishly to decorate his office to resemble a set from the popular PBS show “Downton Abbey.” He paid $40,000 back to his office account. But Schock documented his extensive travels with pictures on social media, and a series of stories followed about the Illinois Republican taking a private jet owned by a donor to a Chicago Bears game, bringing a large group of staff to New York using taxpayer funds, and failing to disclose he took his photographer on a trip to India.
Schock was also facing questions after AP and the Chicago Tribune reported a donor helped finance real estate transactions. He also overbilled the government for mileage reimbursement on a car purchased by his campaign, as reported by Politico.
Currently House rules require staff, but not members to undergo regular ethics training. Congress passed a law in 2007 after a scandal involving lobbyists giving lavish gifts and tickets to members and aides in return for legislative favors. But that law only required Senators and their aides, and later House staffers, to attend training sessions.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island and Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia recently introduced a bipartisan plan to require mandatory annual ethics training for all House members.
The measure has slowly picked up support, but the day after Schock resigned 20 new House members signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.