WASHINGTON — While a grand jury investigating former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., reconvened in Springfield on Wednesday, I’m told he was in Chicago — and looking for a job.
Perhaps sales. Or banking. Or something in international trade.
“He’s thinking about the next chapter of his life,” said a Schock friend who talked to him on Tuesday. “He’s not underground. He’s not in hiding. He’s not in disguise running around Antarctica.”
Schock resigned on March 31 after questions were raised in news stories about his spending of government and campaign funds. The federal criminal investigation continues even though he left Congress.
Since leaving the House, Schock, who started the year with one of the highest profiles in Congress, took himself off the radar.
Last month, a lawyer suing Schock to get a $500 refund of a campaign donation for a client told a federal judge in Chicago he couldn’t find him to serve the legal papers.
But Schock is around, reaching out, I am told by a second person, to people who have been his political supporters.
Though Schock vacated his apartment above a garage connected to a large home in an upscale part of Peoria – he is still based in Peoria, I am told. With friends across the nation, he has been traveling. Since he stopped his constant posting his whereabouts on Instagram and other social media, he’s tough to track.
“He’s talking to people about what he should do next,” the Schock friend said. Like anyone without a job, Schock is “trying to figure out his career path.”
And though the federal investigation continues, Schock “believes he does not have a problem” and is “operating on the premise that there is nothing there.”
On Wednesday, current Washington, D.C.-based Schock staffers Kelli Ripp and Margarita Almanza and former senior adviser Ben Cole were at the federal courthouse in Springfield.
Cole told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was before the grand jury for about two hours. The questions centered on travel, including Schock’s use of private planes paid for by government and campaign funds. The federal probers also are interested in Schock’s auto mileage reimbursements.
There were also questions about the structure of Schock’s office and staffer responsibilities.
“After my grand jury testimony today, I was dismissed by the grand jury,” Cole told the Sun-Times. “I have however been advised that the ongoing investigation may require additional information from me.
“I have agreed to continue my full cooperation with the federal authorities investigating this matter,” he said.
Under House rules, Schock’s 18th Congressional District office staffers continue to be employed, and the operation is run under the supervision of the House Clerk.
Other Schock staffers receiving subpoenas to testify before the grand jury are Dayne LaHood, Shea Ledford, Sarah Rogers, Mark Roman and Bryan Rudolph.
Earlier this year, the Sun-Times reported on Schock’s overstated government mileage claims; the use of taxpayer money for a charter plane to fly him and others from Peoria to Chicago and back for a Bears game; and his taking at least 10 of his House staffers on a $10,053 taxpayer-funded trip to New York last September.
A special primary election to replace Schock is July 7, with the general election Sept. 10.