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House Ethics Committee Probe Of Rep. Aaron Schock Advances

By Amy Cavanaugh in News on Dec 15, 2012 4:15PM

2012_9_4_schock_sq.jpg The House Ethics Committee announced on Friday that it would take its investigation into Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) to the next level. The investigation began last summer, and the Sun-Times reports that Schock told the Peoria Journal-Star, "we feel confident that I didn’t do anything wrong,” with the first phase of the probe.

The committee has yet to make public exactly what it's investigating, but Schock has said that the issue is whether he violated any campaign finance rules when he asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) for a $25,000 donation to the Campaign for Primary Accountability SuperPAC, which was supporting Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) against Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) in the March Illinois primary. Kinzinger won. Yesterday, Schock's spokesman Steve Dutton told the Tribune that the investigation involved super PAC money. Federal officeholders may only seek maximum donations of $5,000 for a super PAC.

The Tribune reports that "officials would not discuss whether the super PAC was a focus of the investigation — or the sole focus."

Schock also has come under scrutiny over his spending of campaign money for meals and hotels. Dutton said, however, the probe had nothing to do with Schock's campaign spending, including a hotel bill from Greece that was reported this year by a watchdog group.

After Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington detailed Schock's use of campaign dollars, he reimbursed his war chest for a $1,136 stay in 2009 at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, a luxury hotel in Athens. Federal election law does not allow the use of campaign money for vacations.

At the time of CREW's disclosure, Schock aide Steven Shearer called payment for the Greek hotel a "mistake." He said a credit card receipt for the hotel had erroneously been "included with a stack of other legitimate campaign expenses."

Dutton released a statement that said, "This is the next step in an ongoing process... We remain confident that this matter will be resolved positively."