Schock’s Downfall Highlights Gaps in House Ethics Enforcement, Training
- Dale Eisman
The resignation of Rep. Aaron Schock makes an open and shut case for stronger ethics enforcement and training in Congress, Common Cause said today.
“Published reports indicate Rep. Schock and his colleagues have authority to administer their offices like little kingdoms,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “Annual budgets for each House office average more than $1.2 million, and each member decides for himself or herself which expenses are ‘official and representational’ and thus billable to the government and which the member must cover using personal funds. Member expenses are public records but no agency is charged with routinely reviewing them.
“It’s shocking that members of the House are under no obligation to take ethics training,” he added. “Without it, this story is bound to replicate itself and further erode trust in government.”
Rapoport and Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of Common Cause Illinois, said Schock’s downfall also highlights the value of the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent arm of the House created in 2009 to investigate ethics complaints against House members and make recommendations to the House Ethics Committee.
The OCE reportedly began reviewing Schock’s office finances earlier this month, following published reports questioning the $40,000 he spent redecorating his Washington office. Schock subsequently tapped his personal account to cover the cost.
Common Cause played a leading role in creation of the OCE. In the current Congress, the organization also supports the ETHICS Act of 2015 (H.R. 1037), bipartisan legislation that would mandate that all House members, officers and staff complete an annual ethics training program.