On March 31, Aaron Schock — the Illinois congressman felled by his penchant for chartered jets, fancy resorts, Katy Perry concert tickets, Downton Abbey décor, and driving backward for highly improbable distances — will resign from Congress under mounting questions about his dubious spending practices. When the scrutiny ends, he’ll need to find a new career. Schock’s better equipped than most of the 33-year-olds entering the job market: In addition to his obvious talents in communication and persuasion and his gift for fund-raising, he’s got modeling credits and countless interviews under his belt, and a popular Instagram account he could monetize. He’d be an obviously appealing choice for reality TV.
On Twitter, reporters cracked about the possibility of Schock, like scandal-plagued Tom DeLay before him, going on a show like Dancing With the Stars. Reality TV would love to have him. “It would be a huge coup. They’d consider him in a heartbeat,” one reality-TV veteran says. “Any sort of political connection makes for an interesting angle. And he’s incredibly good-looking and charismatic. Politics and entertainment are not that dissimilar. If you’ve gotten that far in politics, you have some of the same skills needed.”
Another possibility — one that could allow him to stay involved in politics — would be for Schock to join the ranks of lawmakers who go on to host talk-radio shows, like Mark Foley, Bob Ney, Joe Walsh, and Mike Simpson. “With his personality and flair for self-promotion, the soon-to-be-erstwhile congressman from Peoria would be a great fit for radio,” says Julie Mason, the host of “Press Pool,” a political radio show on Sirius XM. “Indictment could be pesky, however — hard to do a daily show from the hoosegow.”
Schock was a prodigious fund-raiser as a member of Congress, and there’s no reason, assuming he isn’t eventually indicted, why he couldn’t take up fund-raising again. He could begin his reemergence into public life with a confessional book, or leverage his personal experience into a crisis-communications firm. Or he could end up on K Street. “There are some real bottom-feeders there,” explains one Capitol Hill staffer, who doesn’t mean that Schock would be one of them. In fact, he thinks that, given the level of misdeeds voters have been willing to tolerate from their elected officials — see, for example, Representative Mark Sanford — Schock could make an eventual comeback, assuming he’s able to explain away his troubles as extremely shoddy record-keeping on the part of staffers and not any sort of intentional fraud.
“There’s no job today that doesn’t need someone who is good at connecting with people, where you don’t need good people skills or charisma; there’s no profession where those things would be un-valuable,” says Sue Zoldak, a crisis management expert who serves as vice-president of Levick Strategic Communications. “I think that the world’s wide open to him.” Schock’s dad, in an interview with local news cameras yesterday, agreed: “Two years from now he’ll be successful, if he’s not in jail.” Unhelpful, but almost certainly true.