“Washington, D.C. – 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 potion 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.
“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 just 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.
“According to the left-leaning website Think Progress, Cole’s online remarks included this comment about his black neighbors from 2013: “So apparently the closing of the National Zoo has forced the animals to conduct their mating rituals on my street. #gentrifytoday Pt.1”
Schock told Newslo: “I can’t help it – I admit I’m a man who’s always had a taste for the finer things in life. After all, I didn’t work this hard to be average. I think I deserve everything I have, and if I manage to make something on the side or treat myself to a trip every now in then, well, I don’t see the harm in that. I think I deserve it.”
He added: “There’s just something about travelling by private plane; I don’t know whether it’s because of the privacy or the luxury, or maybe both. All I know is, I just can’t travel on regular flights. In the words of my former aide, I’m not a zoo animal and I’m not black.”