It’s a decision that’s sending shock waves through the political landscape of downstate Illinois- Jacksonville Congressman Aaron Schock has resigned.
Dogged by persistent questions about his finances and spending, the 33-year-old Congressman also representing Peoria and Springfield made the announcement yesterday following new questions arising about his business connections to political donors.
Records obtained by the “Peoria Journal Star” shows that a shell company linked to Schock last year paid a political donor $300-thousand for a commercial building, then took out a $600-thousand mortgage on the building from a bank where several senior officials were also campaign donors.
The 18th District Republican is also under investigation for allegedly using taxpayer and campaign dollars for extravagant spending habits. The décor in Schock’s Capitol office was patterned after the British TV series “Downton Abbey.”
In a statement, Schock said he cannot continue to serve his constituents with the growing “distractions” around him. He went on to say that he steps down “with a heavy heart,” but says questions raised in recent weeks made it too difficult to continue to serve.
The Office of Congressional Ethics had just opened an investigation into Schock’s spending and finances.
Here’s the reaction from Governor Bruce Rauner yesterday:
“It’s a very unfortunate situation. I’ve heard a little bit in the press and read a few of the articles about what’s going on. It’s a very sad day in Illinois, and that’s all I can really say about it right now, it’s a very unfortunate situation,” Rauner said. “I hope and believe that the Congressman is doing the right thing right now for the best interests of the people in the 18th District and the people of the State of Illinois.”
And fellow West Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis also reacts:
“Aaron will have the opportunity to face his accusers and will be able to, hopefully in the long run, clear up any discrepancies that may have arisen,” Davis says.
Schock has been in the U.S. House since 2009.
There are already rumblings about who may replace Schock. Darin LaHood, a current state senator, is announcing his candidacy to replace Schock. LaHood is the son of former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who was Schock’s predecessor.
A special election will be held to replace Schock. State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is also reportedly considering a bid. State Senator Bill Brady, who had considered running, said he won’t run on Wednesday.
Updated at 8:45 a.m.