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US lawmaker announces resignation

March 17, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. congressman who redecorated his congressional office in the style of the TV show “Downton Abbey” says he is resigning his seat in the House of Representatives amid questions about his spending.

In a statement on Tuesday, Rep. Aaron Schock, a rising star in the Republican Party, said he would step down effective March 31.

Schock, an eight-year lawmaker from Illinois, said he was taking the step with a “heavy heart.” He said that questions about irregularities in his campaign finance and congressional spending accounts over the past six weeks have proven to be a “great distraction” and have made it too difficult for him to serve.

He repaid the government $40,000 for the office renovation.

Schock, 33, said he had given the people of his Peoria-area district his all since his election in 2008, “but the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District.”

Schock has come under heavy scrutiny following revelations of lavish spending, payments to donors for flights on private jets and improperly categorized expenses. On Monday, the AP confirmed that the Office of Congressional Ethics had reached out to Schock’s associates as it apparently began an investigation.

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner said: “With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics is an outside panel that reviews ethics complaints against House members and makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee.

A person who received a letter from the panel said the ethics office was interested in conducting an interview and reviewing any relevant documents. At least two other Schock associates received similar letters, the person said. The Schock associate asked not to be identified because the ethics panel’s actions are confidential.

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