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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

If Washington Post reporter Ben Terris hadn't been sidetracked by the bright red walls in Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-IL) new Capitol Hill office, the congressman's questionable financial habits may not have come to light so quickly, if at all.

Schock announced with a "heavy heart" on Tuesday afternoon that he would resign from Congress effective March 31, citing questions that had been raised about his finances as "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."

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Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) announced his resignation from Congress Tuesday afternoon, Politico reported.

The abrupt resignation, effective March 31, of one of the youngest members of Congress and a rising star in the Republican Party came after multiple news outlets raised questions about his use of taxpayer and campaign funds.

"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," Schock said in a statement, as quoted by Politico. "I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve."

Politico reported that Schock resigned less than a day after the publication had raised questions about taxpayers footing the bill for mileage reimbursement on his personal vehicle.

The announcement also came after both Politico and the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Office of Congressional Ethics was making inquires about the congressman. The OCE carries out independent probes into alleged misconduct, which the organization may then bring to the attention House Committee on Ethics.

The congressman's woes began in February, when a reporter for the Washington Post published photos of Schock's lavish new Capitol Hill office. The decor was allegedly inspired by the British period drama "Downton Abbey." Schock later reimbursed the $40,000 cost of the office decor with his personal funds.

That story prompted other outlets to take a closer look at Schock's finances. The Associated Press used photos from Schock's Instagram account to trace flights he took on donor's private planes using taxpayer and campaign funds, while Buzzfeed noticed that Schock had used a lectern during appearances in his home district that appeared to be a replica one used by President Obama -- and cost roughly $5,000.

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News outlets reported late Thursday that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter at the University of Oklahoma had lawyered up as the fallout continued from a viral video of its members singing a racist chant on a party bus.

The fraternity chapter's board voted to hire high-profile attorney Stephen Jones as it mulled whether to take legal action against the university and its president, David Boren. Boren severed the school's ties with the fraternity chapter earlier in the week and ordered all its members to vacate their frat house.

Jones said in a news conference Friday afternoon that he wouldn't rule out filing a lawsuit against the university, although he and the members of OU's SAE chapter would prefer to come to terms with the university administration outside of the legal arena. Jones said that he'd been retained to ensure that the frat members receive due process before the university and the fraternity's national organization, but also to ensure the students' safety as they face physical threats from other students on campus.

Jones is best known for representing Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, but there are other aspects of his biography that are worth surfacing.

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