Before the president of Radio France, others have paid a high price for the use of public funds to decorate their office.
The woes of public figures following a little too lavish renovation of their offices are not a purely French specialty. In the United States, Aaron Schock, who was a U.S. Representative from Illinois and a Republican, has just experienced it firsthand, much to his dismay. In the Capitol, it is customary for congressmen to decorate their office with objects evocative of their home state. These usually stick to a very reasonable fetishism. Thus we can find a mallet, the handle of which is made of a walrus penile bone, in Rep. Don Young’s office (Alaska). More humbly, a fox skin was reported in the office of Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), just like a lobster trap in the office of Sen. Susan Collins, from Maine.
Aaron Schock, who was the youngest member of Congress when first elected to the House of Representatives in 2008 at the age of 27, wanted to think bigger than his peers and got his office entirely redecorated from top to bottom. His audiovisual references led him to favor the post-Victorian atmosphere which enshrouds the television series "Downton Abbey," although he assured us afterward that he had never seen a single episode of it.
Public Money and Personal Pleasures
When the Washington Post reported this little folly – his chandeliers and pheasant feathers – some saw red, the color chosen for the walls, and the eyebrows that were raised by the exposure of the man in question’s naked torso on the cover of Men’s Health magazine three years earlier were frowning again.
It was more an issue of cost than taste. A thorough examination of the accounts of Congressman Schock quickly revealed a bill for tens of thousands of dollars that he promised to repay. Furthermore, the press has detected an annoying habit to confuse public money and personal pleasure, as well as a certain attraction for private jets.
On March 13, the National Journal revealed that Schock was accompanied on an official visit to India by a photographer and videographer in violation of congressional rules. The next day, Politico highlighted another low point: a reimbursement request for double the miles actually driven by his company cars. Two days later, Schock announced his resignation. It will be effective on March 31, 2015 and promises a serious dilemma for his successor: to settle into those very aristocratic, brand new offices or to redecorate, again.