U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock can add another trip to a growing list of potential House rules violations. The Republican congressman traveled to India last August on official business and took photographer Jonathon Link with him, and an international anti-poverty group footed the bill, the National Journal reported Thursday. House rules allow a member to accept private money for a companion’s travel expenses only if that person is a spouse, child or official staff. But Link, a Dallas-based photographer, is none of the above.
The Global Poverty Project sponsored Schock’s trip to India and offered to pay for one staff member to accompany him as long as the staffer flew economy class. Schock had planned to take another aide, but the advocacy organization mentioned they needed a photographer. So, the Illinois congressman suggested Link, a spokesman for the Global Poverty Project told the National Journal.
A travel disclosure form Schock filed after the trip shows the organization paid $5,000 for travel, $525 for lodging, $300 for meals, $289 for travel insurance and $100 for ground transportation for the congressman. But Schock never disclosed the Global Poverty Project also paid some $4,000 to fly Link from Dallas to New Delhi, and lodge and feed him, the National Journal reported.
Schock met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss sanitation and access to clean water during the trip, which was well-documented on the congressman’s Instagram account. A Schock spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the trip, but said the congressman has hired a public relations team as well as a pair of attorneys to review compliance procedures, according to CNN.
"After questions were first raised in the press, Congressman Schock took the proactive step of assembling a team to review the compliance procedures in his official office, campaign and leadership PAC to determine whether they can be improved," the spokesman said, in a statement. "Congressman Schock takes his compliance obligations seriously which is why he took this proactive step to review these procedures. Congressman Schock has a well-deserved outstanding reputation for constituent service and remains steadfastly focused on serving the people in Illinois' 18th congressional district during this review."
Schock recently came under fire for using taxpayer money to pay for flights on private jets, concert tickets, a massage company and other entertainment expenditures. The fourth-term congressman is also under scrutiny for lapses in reporting some of his expenses. The review on his dubious spending habits is ongoing, CNN reported.