Friday, March 13, 2015

The Dowager Congressman and His Longtime Companion Videographer

Oh Aaron Schock; when the pretty stumble, it’s pretty spectacular.

It appears that the Dowager Congressman™ — so  named because of his Downton Abbey-esque redo of his private offices … for which he charged the taxpayers $35,000 that he subsequently paid back because, well, it was wrong and unethical, and dare I say, illegal — is now deeper into the hot water.

Schock may have, ALLEGEDLY, improperly, accepted money from an outside group to the cover travel expenses for his, um, companion, Jonathon Link, on a trip to India and then failed to disclose the ALLEGEDLY improperly accepted money which is a violation of House rules.

It seems that Schock’s August 2014 “official business” trip to India, during which he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was funded by the Global Poverty Project, an organization working to alleviate extreme poverty internationally. Schock also took along his bestie, Jonathon Link [right], his “personal” photographer and videographer, and Global Poverty Project paid for his expenses, too.

To be fair, the organization offered to pay for one staffer to accompany The Dowager Congressman™ as long as the staffer flew economy, and another aide was originally scheduled to make the trip. But when the Global Poverty Project said they were looking for a photographer, Schock suggested Link, with whom he has worked in the past.

The problem is that House rules allow a member, in this case Aaron Schock, to accept private money for a companion's travel expenses only if that companion is member of the Congressman’s staff, a spouse, or a child; Jonathon Link is none of those things to Aaron Schock, and, in fact, did not appear on Schock's official or campaign payroll until September 2014, a full month after he traveled to India with Schock.

And to make matters worse, Congressman Schock never disclosed that Jonathon Link was his travel buddy on that trip, breaking another set of rules that say members must disclose money they accept from private sources and are also required to disclose in writing when someone accompanies them on a trip paid for by an outside organization.

Aaron Schock did neither of those things. Instead, a disclosure form filed by Schock after returning from India makes no mention of Link traveling with him, and no mention of the $4,000 the Global Poverty Project separately paid for Link to travel from Dallas to New Delhi, and lodge and feed him. It seems Aaron Schock likes to travel large, and likes to have other people pay for it, and likes to have other people pay for his BFF to come along; what he doesn’t like to do is admit that he’s done that.

A spokesperson for The Dowager congressman™ declined to comment on the specifics of the trip and would only say that Aaron Schock has enlisted attorneys to lead a review of his compliance procedures.

Jonathon Link is also not talking, but … wait, there’s more …

After voting to freeze salaries for federal workers through 2015 and after opposing any minimum wage increases, Aaron Schock gave huge pay raises and/or bonuses to most of the staff members in his taxpayer-funded office during the last three months of 2014. Let’s dish:
Anthony DeThomas was a paid intern who started working for Schock August 7, 2014, earning some $1,000 a month; by October he was a “temporary employee” with a salary of $18,000 from October through December—roughly $6,000 a month; in fact, his paycheck was bigger than most of the members of Schock’s staff .
As for Jonathon Link, the full time personal photographer, he began “working” for the Schock on September 1, earning $4,166 for that month; the next month he was given a raise and began earning $5,660 a month. In addition to his congressional salary, Jonathon Link’s photography studio was paid more than $29,000 for “Web Dev Hst, Email and Rltd Serv.”  Not a bad gig for three months work: nearly $22,000 in paychecks, another $30,000 to your business, and a free trip with your buddy to India.
Matthew Chambers, a staff assistant, earned $8,888 a month from July through September but received an additional $13,000 from October through December.
Genevieve Dejean, a constituent services representative, earned $7,516 from July through September, but received $10,500 from October through December.
Michael Gilmore, a military/veteran specialist, earned $9,999 from July to September and then $13,999 from October through December.
Kelli Ripp, a legislative assistant, received $11,250 from July to September and $16,250 from October through December.
Sarah Rogers, executive assistant, received $16,250 from July to September and $26,250 from October through December.
Mark Roman, deputy chief of staff, was paid roughly $10,000 a month for the first nine months of 2014, but was then paid twice that much for the last three months of the year.
Bryan Rudolph, district office manager, was paid $15,000 from July to September and $20,000 from October through December.
Overall, after The Dowager Congressman™ voted to freeze salaries, and after he voted against any wage increases, Schock’s office payroll nearly doubled from $172,000 in the third quarter of 2014 to more than $300,000 in the fourth. Oh yeah, and that’s during the same time frame that the House — of which Schock is a member — shut down the government.

I certainly hope that team of lawyers The Dowager Congressman™ has hired are working overtime to explain this; and I hope that Aaron Schock isn’t asking some private organization to pay his legal bills, or seeking reimbursement for the taxpayers he represents to cover his attorney fees.

Maybe, he could ask anyone on his staff, or even Jonathon Link, to lend his some cash while he continues to fight allegations of being kind of a thief … and a hypocrite.

I said it before, but when pretty people stumble, they do so in spectacular fashion.
National Journal
Blue Nation Review


anne marie in philly said...

dare I say they are a couple in luv? I DARE!

Frank said...

What I find most Schocking, ironic and unbelievable is that the Congressman was actually involved in an anti-poverty project.

mistress maddie said...

I have the feeling they were bumping more then a camera lens. I'd be more than happy to take Link off his payroll.

the dogs' mother said...

And I expect there is more down the road.

Biki Honko said...

I"m waiting for hard evidence of their relationship, The Dowager and the Photographer. Wow, that sounds like a pulp romance novel!

Thombeau said...

Great post! "Dowager Congressman" - LOL

Sadie J said...

We have a tradition in Illinois-- where our Governors make our license plates. Maybe the Dowager can join them!