Once a fast-rising star in the Republican Party, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock gave his final speech on the House floor Thursday.
Schock, who was elected to Congress in 2008, will resign his House seat at the end of the month. His resignation comes after weeks of questions about his judgment, lavish lifestyle and spending.
Little of the scandal that plagued Schock’s final weeks on Capitol Hill was evident Thursday though, as his farewell speech focused less on his quick fall and more on his rise.
“I’ve done my best to contribute constructively to the process and to serve the people of my district and my country,” Schock said. “My guiding principle has always been rooted in the belief that Washington should only do what people cannot do for themselves.”
Over the last few weeks, a series of reports by Politico, the The Washington Post, and other news organizations raised questions about Schock’s financial practices. Reports indicate that Schock spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on office renovations, used both taxpayer and campaign funds on private jets and concerts and did not report lavish gifts on financial disclosure funds as required by House ethics guidelines. His resignation ultimately came on March 17 as Politico raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements Schock claimed for his personal vehicle.
Schock, 33, was elected to Congress as a 27-year-old. He said he was never more excited than the day he stepped onto Capitol Hill for the first time. He was a youthful face in the chamber who posted shirtless photos of himself on Instagram and posed for a photo showing his abs on the cover of the fitness magazine Men’s Health.
“I leave here with sadness and humility,” he said. “For those whom I’ve let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you.”
Even in his final floor speech, Schock seemed to leave the door open for a future — though he didn’t specify what kind — comparing himself to former President Abraham Lincoln, who Shock has a bust of in his office.
“Abraham Lincoln held this seat in Congress for one term but few faced as many defeats in his personal, business and public life as he did,” Schock said. “His continual perseverance in the face of these trials, never giving up is something all of us Americans should be inspired by, especially when going through a valley in life.”
Only the two situations aren’t exactly parallel. Lincoln did, as Schock noted, serve just one term in Congress. In fact, he promised while campaigning in 1846 that he would serve just one term if elected. He won, did just that, and declined to run for re-election in 1848.
Schock’s troubles on Capitol Hill began after The Washington Post published an article last month about his lavish office renovations, which were inspired by the popular PBS drama “Downton Abbey.”
In an unrelated coincidence, PBS announced today that the show’s upcoming sixth season will be its last.