Rep. Aaron Schock is considered somewhat of a rising star in GOP circles but, recently, his flair for the extravagant has garnered him some unwanted attention. First, there was the recent dust-up over his newly-renovated office, which is presumed to have cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, all taypayer-funded. Now, on the heels of this story comes another, courtesy the research of two AP investigative journalists and Rep. Schock’s own Instagram account.
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.
By matching this data, the reporters were able to see that the congressman had spent tens of thousands of dollars on private jets, financing the expenses with both campaign and taxpayer funds. Further investigation shows that the Rep. Schock also used those funds on massages and concert tickets for himself and his staff. In fact, one of his staff members posted a photo on Instagram last June, at a sold out Katy Perry concert. The photo had the caption “You can’t say no when your boss invites you. Danced my butt off.” According to the congressman’s records, this was list as a “fundraising event” for a political action committee.
Similar uses (and possible abuses) of taxpayer and/or campaign funds have prompted ethics investigations in the past. Therefore, it is not improbable to think that this AP story may prompt just that. If that is the case, this might be the first time that Instagram was used as evidence in an ethics inquiry.