Schock formed a political machine in his district while rising from 19-year-old school board candidate to 27-year-old first-term House member. In that time, Schock's personal popularity and name recognition (he won 75 percent of the vote in his 2014 general election after an unopposed primary win) has grown in step with the network of supporters and local politicians who have received checks from PACs affiliated with him.
One such group, the 18th District Republican Central Committee, has distributed almost $280,000 to Illinois Republicans over the past four years. Coyle, the Peoria GOP chair who is running for city council, is just one of many local candidates who have received checks from the PAC, which raises money in conjunction with Schock's official campaign account. At one local event in 2011, Schock pledged $1,000 to 10 different candidates for different local boards and legislative bodies.
Schock's fundraising skills also have won him friends in Washington. Between his own donations and money he raised, Schock accounted for $2 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2014.
Right now, he's keeping his head down: Politico reported that Schock has canceled fundraising events and has brought in lawyers to review his office and campaign spending. One of the veteran GOP operatives he has hired to help manage his situation, Brian Walsh, declined to comment for the story. But allies insist Schock has built enough credit to withstand the scandal.
"If you're starting out as personally likable and popular as Schock is, then the burden of proof is going to be much higher," said a GOP strategist with ties to House leadership who wouldn't speak about Schock's ethics situation on the record.
Certainly, Schock has some enemies within the Republican Party: The conservative Club for Growth promoted an effort to defeat Schock in a primary last election cycle, although a challenger never came forward. Schock has a 58 percent lifetime vote score from the club, which sometimes bankrolls conservative challengers to members of Congress.
A left-leaning ethics group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has filed three ethics complaints against Schock, including one that alleges he sold his home to a campaign contributor for more than its market value. Investigations have also revealed that Schock spent tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer and campaign funds for private flights, music concerts and Downton Abbey-inspired decorations for his Washington office. And on Sunday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Schock billed taxpayers to fly to Chicago for an NFL game last year.
Early last month, a top Schock adviser resigned after racist remarks on his Facebook page were discovered.
Schock isn't the only safe-seat GOP lawmaker facing news that one might expect to spark a political challenge. In South Texas, Rep. Blake Farenthold is grappling with a lawsuit accusing him of illegal gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment—and political observers also say that he’s likely not in electoral danger.