Jacksonville’s Congressman at center of controversy over office motif

By Gary Scott on February 5, 2015 at 9:09am

Photo from ABC News.

Don’t ask us how, but Congressman Aaron Schock’s choice of office decoration has somehow turned into a national controversy.

A Washington Post story on Tuesday revealed Schock’s office is decorated with a “Downton Abbey” theme- bright red walls, a chandelier, and gold-trimmed paintings.

Now, the Chicago Tribune reports the Office of Congressional Ethics has been asked by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics watchdog group to examine if Schock acted improperly by accepting free services from a Jacksonville interior designer.

Annie Brahler, the owner of Euro Trash, told the Post she offered her services for free. But House Ethics Committee rules indicate lawmakers can’t accepts gifts worth more than $50.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Schock defended the decoration, and he insisted he’ll pay Brahler for her professional services personally once he receives an invoice.

“Well I’ve never been an old, crusty white guy,” he told ABC News.

“Obviously, I have four Congressional offices. Part of the [Member’s Representational Allowance] allotment that I’m given is to hire staff, pay for office equipment, and all of that. So, each of us have to use our best judgment on what’s used for,” added Schock.

Although a staffer in Schock’s office told the Washington Post that the décor was inspired by Downton Abbey, Schock told ABC News that he’s never watched the show.

Brahler wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Schock is still under examination from the Ethics Committee for an incident in 2012 when he allegedly solicited excessive funds for a political action committee to help Congressman Adam Kinzinger win a race.