Post style reporter Ben Terris was admiring Schock's outer office—a fiery red affair reportedly adorned with golden sconces and black candles—when a staffer reportedly volunteered, for no apparent reason, that the space was inspired by popular British period television drama Downton Abbey.
A blond woman popped out of an inner office. "Want to see the rest?" she asked.
She introduced herself as Annie Brahler, the interior decorator whose company is called Euro Trash. She guided me to Schock's private office, revealing another dramatic red room. This one with a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers.
Then, my phone rang.
It was Schock's communications director, Benjamin Cole.
"Are you taking pictures of the office?" he asked. "Who told you you could do that? . . . Okay, stay where you are. You've created a bit of a crisis in the office."
A staff member then came and asked me to please delete the photos from my phone. So started a day of back-and-forths with a congressman's office about interior design.
Cole even apparently tried to trade access to Schock to keep Terris from publishing the dirty Downton deets.
"You've got a member [of Congress] willing to talk to you about other things," Cole said on the phone. "Why sour it by rushing to write some gossipy piece?"