Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill.,who has come under fire for a variety of questionable practices in his congressional office, announced Tuesday he will resign from Congress effective March 31.
"I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life," said Schock, 33, who was elected to Congress at 27. "I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington. I have given them my all over the last six years. I have traveled to all corners of the District to meet with the people I’ve been fortunate to be able to call my friends and neighbors."
But, Schock said 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 with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself."
Allegations of improper spending sank the career of another Illinois congressman fewer than three years ago. Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who represented the Chicago area, resigned his seat in November 2012, amid federal ethics investigations. Jackson was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2013 for misusing roughly $750,000 in campaign funds over the course of several years.
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., who reserved judgement of Schock during the controversy, told reporters his delegation has been through this before.
"Congressman Jackson, of course, for the misuse of campaign funds has paid a heavy price, both him and his wife," Durbin said. Jackson's wife, Sandi, received a 12-month sentence for her role in the public corruption scheme.
"I don't know what the future holds for Aaron Schock, but I was stunned today that he [will resign]. I didn't know that was going to happen," Durbin said.
Durbin said the allegations against Schock raised important questions about his expenditure of campaign and official funds, but would not necessarily inspire any attempts within Congress to clarify ethics rules related to spending.
"You know I don't think there's any question about ambiguity in terms of the law and the rules. The question is his conduct and how he could rationalize some of the things that he's been charged with," Durbin said.
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