It’s just a little over a year ago that journalist Itay Hod basically out Rep. Aaron Schock (R.-Ripped Abs). Schock managed to ride out the storm, which included being outed by The New York Times, and win re-election in his Illinois district largely by not acknowledging the reports.
But that doesn’t mean Schock isn’t still touchy about his image, as the Washington Post discovered. Reporter Ben Terris visited Schock’s office and found that it had been completely redone.
Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top. And this is just the Illinois Republican’s outer office.
“It’s actually based off of the red room in ‘Downton Abbey,’?” said the woman behind the front desk, comparing it to the luxurious set piece at the heart of the British period drama.
Fortunately for Terris, the office’s designer, Annie Brahler of the firm Euro Trash (really), was on hand to provide a full tour, which features a display of peacock feathers (on full view in Terris’ story).
Schock’s staff doesn’t believe that nothing says “I’m heterosexual” more than Downton Abbey and peacock feathers. Once communication director Benjanim Cole discovered Terris was snapping pics with his phone, Cole went into full panic mode, demanding that Terris delete the photos and promising an interview with Schock himself if Terris would drop the story. Cole said that Schock hadn’t even seen the office, so it wasn’t fair to write about it.
Terris agreed to hold off, if he could be present when Schock did see the office for the first time. Cole agreed, and then reneged. When Terris asked about Schock’s fondness for “Downton Abbey,” Cole replied, “I don’t even know if he watches it; I don’t know what shows he watches. But I don’t think he watches much TV.”
Of course, Cole’s skittishness made the story impossible to ignore and his boss a laughingstock. It also put Schock under ethical scrutiny. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a request with the Office of Congressional Ethics to determine if Schock violated ethical guidelines. Designer Brahler told the Washington Post that Schock admired her work so much that she offered her services for free. That would be a no-no.
Just one question remains: when Schock is ensconced in his new office, whom does he imagine himself to be: Lady Cora, Lady Mary or Lady Sybil? Of course, there’s always the downstairs staff, like, say, Barrow. He’s struggling with the closet right now. Barrow, that is.