Illinois Congressman’s lavish Instagram feed under scrutiny
WASHINGTON — Rep. Aaron Schock’s lavish tastes and penchant for Instagram collided Monday in a way that’s bound to cause him more headaches after an already rough month for the Illinois Republican.
After sifting through flight records, travel expenses and location data on Schock’s Instagram photos, the Associated Press reported Monday that Schock has spent taxpayer dollars to fly on private jets owned by some of his own political donors since mid-2011.
House ethics rules changed in January 2013 to allow members of Congress to fund private flights with taxpayer dollars as long as they pay for just their share of the cost. But Schock paid for private flights with his House account before that rule changed and it’s not clear if Schock only paid for his portion of the flight after the rule change, according to the Associated Press investigation.
Schock billed taxpayers more than $24,000 for eight private flights in 2011 and 2012 on a plane owned by Schock donor Darren Frye. Frye donated $10,200 to Schock’s reelection campaign and political action committee, GOP Generation Y Fund, in 2013 alone according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Schock’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Schock told the Associated Press in an email that he travels often “to stay connected with my constituents” and to fundraise.
Schock’s political action committee also paid $12,560 to Jeff Green, another Schock donor who owns a private jet that traveled to eight cities where Schock traveled during the midterm campaign season. The AP made the connection by cross-referencing flight data for Green’s plane and time and location data on Schock’s Instagram pictures.
The Associated Press also revealed expenses made by GOP Generation Y, which spent more than $24,000 on concerts, festivals and events — including apparently a Katy Perry concert Shock attended with interns, the AP revealed after scanning expense reports and Instagram photos.
He said he launched a review of his office’s spending procedures “concerning this issue and others to determine whether they can be improved.”
Once viewed as a rising GOP star, the fresh-faced 33-year-old congressman is already facing a House ethics inquiry which is ongoing since 2013 stemming from allegations he illegally solicited donations in 2012.
And Schock was caught in hot water earlier this month when the Washington Post reported that an interior designer glammed up his House office for free, themed around the TV show “Downton Abbey.” Schock has since said he’ll pay for the redecorating after he faced an ethics complaint.
Before the dust settled on that affair, Schock’s office had to manage another crisis when a senior adviser, Ben Cole, resigned after the aide compared black people in his neighborhood to zoo animals.[ndn id=”28510270″]