The establishment GOP inside the Beltway spent much of 2014 discouraging Republicans from mounting primary challenges to sitting GOP lawmakers. In 2016, the Republican Party would be well-advised not to interfere in the race for Congress in Illinois 18th Congressional District.
“Attorney Mark Zalcman, formerly a Chillicothe resident who now lives in Normal, announced Monday that he planned to seek the GOP nomination for the 18th Congressional District seat that Schock now holds, running on a platform centered on his Christian faith and values and using the slogan ‘Because Washington needs the Gospel,’” The Peoria Journal-Star reported. “He’s also an advocate of instituting term limits for lawmakers.”
When a Republican candidate for office is not shy about expressing their devotion to their Christian faith, it often prompts coastal sophisticates on both sides of the aisle to suppress a gag reflex. But in this coming election cycle, an earnest and moralizing candidate for Congress is probably better than the status quo. The 18th district’s current representative, Aaron Schock (R-IL), is embroiled in far too many allegations of corruption to be a coincidence.
“Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock reported on federal campaign finance documents that he spent more than $3,000 on software on Nov. 14,” Politico reported on Monday. “But in fact, the expenditure was part of the cost of flying in a software executive’s private plane to a Chicago Bears game and his district, the pilot and company executive said.”
That’s just the beginning.
Siilats said the payment was a deposit for a trip on the private plane to Peoria, Illinois and Chicago for official events and a Chicago Bears football game.
“It’s the same flight where we billed him for the $10,000 he disclosed,” Siilats said, referring to a Chicago Sun-Times story, which reported that Schock used taxpayer resources for a trip that included an NFL football game. “The total flight time was — it went longer that day when we flew. The $3,000 was a deposit, and then the $10,000 was the final bill. So the total bill was $13,000.”
Schock has been accused of spending campaign resources on luxury hotels, private charter aircraft, and a fundraising trip to India. This leads to the most damning paragraph in the sprawling report on allegations revolving around Schock’s corruption.
Schock also held a golf fundraiser at a private course in Maryland, and did not report paying for it. He has taken several trips abroad without following disclosure rules and had to pay back $40,000 for redecorating his office to resemble the set of the PBS show “Downton Abbey.”
Corruption is one thing, but frivolous venality is quite another. At last Boss Tweed might have been able to contend that he was corrupt, but his corruption benefited a constituency. The allegations that dog Schock indicate that he is purely interested in enjoying the good life at the public’s expense.
National Review’s Charles Cooke, quoting RedState’s Erick Erickson, observed that the behavior in which Schock is alleged to have engaged is particularly damaging for conservatives who claim fiscal competence as one of the key factors that make them suitable for public office.
There is no virtue at all in the Republican party’s vehemently decrying the largesse and the arrogance of Washington, D.C., if those who are sent to cut the place down to size end up living like Lucrezia Borgia. In recent years, Schock has explained that “exercising humility is important to” him; that he hopes not only to “stand for [his] principles but . . . to work for them”; and that his conservative and Christian upbringing has informed his political outlook. He “didn’t grow up dreaming of being George Washington,” he confirms. Perhaps, though, it would have been better if he had, for there it is no good talking a good game unless you are prepared to live it out, too.
So, that’s that, right? Schock has lost the conservative movement, and he is rapidly losing the support of the establishment GOP. How could he possibly hang on? Well, Ace of Spades blogger and Illinois native Jeff B notes that Schock will be a tough lawmaker to remove from office.
Here's truth about Aaron Schock: he has VERY powerful friends, both in IL statewide GOP and nationally. Hard to dislodge. Will need a push.
One person who is emphatically NOT a friend of Aaron Schock: newly-elected GOP IL Governor Bruce Rauner, who's doubtless enjoying this.
ATTENTION ILLINOIS REPUBLICANS: Don't waste your time w/stupid primary challenge of Sen. Mark Kirk in 2016. Focus on Aaron Schock instead.
Good advice. Are you listening, Joe Walsh?