Aaron Schock, GOP boy wonder, might soon have some problems that are much larger than office decorations or, uh, that other stuff. According to a new AP report, the Illinois representative used over $75,000 in campaign donor funds since 2011 for private air travel, several concerts—including a Katy Perry show—and, because Congressmen work very hard, massages.
AP writers Jack Gillum and Stephen Braun say they cross-referenced metadata taken from Schock's Instagram account with reports filed by his office. Here is their methodology in their own words:
The AP tracked Schock's reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman's penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock's office and campaign records.
And now the fun stuff.
According to Gillum and Braun, a Schock PAC called "GOP Generation Y" (young people love PACs) has billed itself over $24,000 in the last four-plus years for various concerts, including: $13,000 for various country music events, $4,700 to a ticket brokerage called SitClose.com, $3,000 to the organization that put on the Global Citizen Festival (headlined by Jay Z) and $1,928 to Stubhub, which the AP connects to a Katy Perry concert in Washington from last summer.
Do you think Aaron Schock enjoys Katy Perry? I bet he does.
Aside from entertainment—and $1,400 sent to a massage parlor last October—the AP alleges that Schock spent at least $40,000 of his donors' money on private airfare. Here are Gillum and Braun explaining the congressional rules that govern using campaign money for airfare:
Lawmakers can use office funds for private flights as long as payments cover their share of the costs. But most of the flights Schock covered with office funds occurred before the House changed its rules in January 2013. The earlier rules prohibited lawmakers from using those accounts to pay for flights on private aircraft, allowing payments only for federally licensed charter and commercial flights.
According to the reports filed by Schock, the various concerts and such were "fundraising events"—including one called "Schocktoberfest," which is a cool thing that millennials know about, held at a brewery—and his travel was for official Congressional business such as stumping for his fellow but perhaps less camera friendly Republicans.
Nonetheless, despite the AP's thorough reporting, using donor funds to fly private jets falls on the milder end of the political scandal spectrum. In quotes given to the AP, Schock's office seems to be readying a strategy to write all this off as a series of paperwork errors, though that could be complicated by an earlier ethics inquiry that stems from his fundraising methods.
And, really, if you're a rich person who gave money to Aaron Schock and then became pissed because he used it to go see Katy Perry, the joke would be on you.
[image of Schock at the Global Citizen Festiva via Getty]