Skip to main content

Instagram account exposes congressman who blew public funds on private flights and concerts

Instagram account exposes congressman who blew public funds on private flights and concerts

Share this story

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An Illinois congressman was found to have used taxpayer and campaign funds on private plane travel, concert tickets, and other lavish expenses after the Associated Press cross-referenced his Instagram account against his flight records. Republican representative Aaron Schock, who is already facing several ethics probes, reportedly spent more than $40,000 on private air travel from 2011 onwards, and took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry show in June last year, a $1,928 expense that he listed as a "PAC fundraising event."

With the legend @iamstevent

A photo posted by Aaron Schock (@aaronschock) on

Journalists took the location data from a number of pictures and videos Schock had uploaded to Instagram and correlated it with his flight records, using flight tracking service FlightAware to build a picture of where the congressman had traveled. In November 2013, for example, Schock was casting votes in the Capitol when a plane piloted by campaign donor Jeff Green landed at Washington's Reagan National Airport. A short time later, the congressman posted an Instagram picture from his "Schocktoberfest" fundraising event in Peoria, soon after Green's plane landed back in the Illinois city. Schock billed his office account $11,433 for travel during the period. In October 2014, Schock again paid Green thousands of dollars for air travel, expensing him a payment of $12,560 in the same month he also expensed $1,440 to a massage parlor for a "fundraising event."

Schock expensed $40,000 of private flights from 2011 onwards

While house representatives can now use office funds for private air travel, the law only changed in 2013, and the AP says the majority of Schock's flights took place when rules prohibited the use of campaign and taxpayer money for private flights. Investigations found that he had paid $24,000 for eight flights between May 2011 and December 2012, using the money to pay for travel using aircraft offered by campaign donors, without having secured authorization from the House Ethics Committee. Under the new rules, lawmakers can only cover their own share of a private flight with campaign money. The AP says it's not clear whether Schock's donor planes had any other passengers.

Glacier time.....makes you wanna jump, jump #MCHammermeetKrisKross #iceicebaby

A photo posted by Aaron Schock (@aaronschock) on

Schock, who the AP describes as "a rising Republican star," was the target of a 2013 report from the Office of Congressional Ethics that said there was reason to believe he had illegally solicited donations in 2012. He's also become somewhat infamous for enjoying the finer things in life. Earlier this month, the congressman was hit with two ethics complaints from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). One claimed that he had sold his house to a campaign donor for more than three times its value, and the other suggested he had accepted free decorating services to style his office to look like British TV show Downton Abbey. Schock, in response to the complaints, told ABC News that "haters gonna hate" — but the Illinois lawmaker has started hiring lawyers and PR experts.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 25 Not just you

E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.