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Schock lawyers up after apparent oppo dump

Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015

* Check the last line in this story excerpt

Rep. Aaron Schock has hired two prominent Washington defense attorneys and a public relations firm to respond to the swirling controversy and a potential ethics probe over how he has financed his lavish lifestyle.

The move by the embattled Illinois Republican comes amid continuing questions about his use of campaign and office accounts to pay for pricey travel and accommodations. His office has refused to respond to specific questions from POLITICO, including issues raised over the past week about a trip he took to London nearly four years ago as part of an annual event featuring Prince Charles.

Schock has hired William McGinley and Don McGahn of the Washington law firm Jones Day to lead his legal team. Veteran GOP communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh are helping manage his response, according to sources close to the matter. […]

The trip, which included events organized by the nonprofit Prince of Wales Foundation, was not an official government trip and was not reported as a gift. Schock’s office would not say whether he paid for it. If he personally covered the cost of the trip, Schock would not be required to disclose it.

The London trip was discovered as part of a cache of documents obtained by POLITICO detailing several years of Schock’s personal, political and governmental travel.

A “cache of documents obtained” is obviously a euphemism for “Oppo dump.” This sure looks to me like a generated piece, which wouldn’t be the first time Schock was hit with one of those lately.

* And if the AP really did come up with this idea and spent the time necessary to do the research all on its own, then good for the AP. But being on the receiving end of some pretty clever oppo over the years, and knowing the existence of a “cache” of travel-related oppo, I am a tiny bit skeptical that this was a purely original concept

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, a rising Republican star already facing an ethics inquiry, has spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors, The Associated Press has found. There also have been other expensive travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.

The expenses highlight the relationships that lawmakers sometimes have with donors who fund their political ambitions, an unwelcome message for a congressman billed as a fresh face of the GOP. The AP identified at least one dozen flights worth more than $40,000 on donors’ planes since mid-2011.

The AP tracked Schock’s reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman’s penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock’s office and campaign records. […]

The AP found that Green’s plane traveled to at least eight cities last October in the Midwest and East Coast, cities where Schock met with political candidates ahead of the midterm elections. His Instagram account’s location data and information from the service FlightAware even pinpointed Schock’s location on a stretch of road near one airport before Green’s plane departed.

* And then right on cue comes the liberal-leaning CREW outfit

Under scrutiny for lavish spending, Rep. Aaron Schock R-Ill. has been hit with a third ethics complaint on Wednesday from CREW — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a watchdog group whose concerns often trigger further investigative inquiries.

The complaint comes a day after Schock asked his lawyers to conduct an internal audit of spending from his government and political accounts.

In a release, CREW said it “asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate whether Rep. Schock broke House rules in light of new evidence that the congressman improperly used taxpayer money and campaign funds to rent private, non-charter flights for travel.

* Bob Dylan seems appropriate here

Someone’s got it in for me,
they’re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out
but when they will I can only guess

* I’m not trying to diminish the fix that Schock has gotten into here. I’m just marveling at how so much of this coverage seems to be directed from Democratic sources above. That recent DCCC mailer in Schock’s district shows it has a budget for this little project.

So is this just some DC-style harassment “fun,” or is it something more? It could be either one or even both, but it’s probably not too difficult to use your imagination to see the ultimate hit that could be coming here. The Democrats could very well be working up to something, or at least churning the waters until that something is finally pried loose and Schock is forced out or so badly damaged that the wildly successful fundraiser and GOP media star is rendered ineffective.

Or, maybe it’s just “good government.”

Yeah, right. DC is so all about the good government thing.

* Before closing, I should say that strict compliance with our comment code will be enforced on this post. Don’t get yourself banned for life. It ain’t worth it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Daryl - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:42 pm:

    How does “oppo dump” change the possibility that Schock committed some ethics violations? This may be getting out for what you would consider the wrong reasons, but if it’s accurate, what does it matter?

  2. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:43 pm:

    ===but if it’s accurate, what does it matter? ===

    Perhaps you should re-read.

  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:43 pm:

    Well I don’t know who is behind this and don’t care to speculate here, but something tells me that Aaron Schock knows exactly who is doing this to him and why.

  4. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    Yeah, 47th. I’d love to hear what’s going on with this.

  5. - A guy - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:51 pm:

    It’s how the _CCC (pick one, doesn’t matter) deals with uppity successful young members who might be destined to be an impediment to their future plans.

    Just think for a second of all the old Congressional Lions….they’re either dead, dying or on their last lap. Who’s replaced them?

    Now, look at what happens every time one of them look to be rising….Incoming!

    Schocks just the latest of missile fodder. What it isn’t for sure; is good government.

  6. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:53 pm:

    I think the other aspect of this is the reduction in force (and funding) that has been hitting the main-stream news media pretty hard. This kind of investigation used to be the kind meat-and-potatoes investigative journalism that a newspaper could allow a reporter to undertake. Under the new, leaner model, the time and resources to do this would seem to be limited. That leaves the work to partisan groups who have the money and personnel. The problem is not necessarily the quality of the research (although it certainly can be); the problem is who chooses what is investigated. When the news media is a passive recipient, it makes you wonder what is being missed.

  7. - Anonin' - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:53 pm:

    If it were good govt some US Atty would be investigatin’ not a bunch of lobo groups…best guess figures this drum beat stems from the belief that CommandoMakeItUp will not be a candidate and Schock is the next best bet.
    Debris be hurled from the SS Roskam or Ds hopin’ they can gain back the seat CMB gave away to Peter Fitzgerald

  8. - Illini97 - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:55 pm:

    I think you pretty well hit it in your closing remarks. If the DCCC gets to have some “fun,” render a fundraiser ineffective AND tarnish a younger rising star it’s a win-win-win for them, right?

    Schock apparently needs some help managing his response because he hasn’t, to date, really shown he understands the term, “optics.”

  9. - Formerpol - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:55 pm:

    Looks like more of the “politics of personal destruction” that keeps so many good people out of government. Schock is a GOP asset, so he must be destroyed. If he’s guilty of anything, why not just let the ethics process play out?

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===something tells me that Aaron Schock knows exactly who is doing this to him and why===

    I’m pretty sure he knows the why part.

  11. - MrJM - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 12:58 pm:

    The DC Dems must have beamed with pride when they read the toxic phrase “how he has financed his lavish lifestyle.”

    Now you know why they call it “branding”, Aaron — ’cause it burns and leaves a mark.

    – MrJM

  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:00 pm:

    If the ‘ultimate hit’ idea is on target, then the ‘ultimate hitman’ may well end up throwing that uppercut into his own face.

  13. - a drop in - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:02 pm:

    “Debris be hurled from the SS Roskam or Ds hopin’ they can gain back the seat CMB gave away to Peter Fitzgerald”

    Durbin already got that seat back. You mean the one Obama gave up because, well, he got a better job.

  14. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:06 pm:

    Rich…Schock won his 2014 race with nearly 75% of the vote…The minimum wage question lost in the 18th District…I doubt very seriously that Democrats have any prospects of a future win in the 18th..This latest round covering his narcissistic nature came from a Washington Post reporter’s recent tour of Schock’s Congressional office. I doubt that was set-up by a Democratic insider. Of course, opposition research will be shared with the media. I am sure you use a few “tips” yourself, but that’s not driving Schock’s bad press. Schock’s excesses are finally catching up with him. He reminds me of former Cong. Jerry Weller, only better looking.

  15. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:06 pm:

    Like Politico is known for its deep-dive into government records.

    So someone is leading them to it, and they’re milking it for all it’s worth with those all-so-subtle hints about lifestyle and “long-time friends.”

    The ultimate objective is obvious. And it’s not about travel expenses.

    Geez, how could you get out of bed in the morning and go to work doing THAT?

    What a bunch of creeps. Grow up.

  16. - IrishPirate - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:07 pm:

    Schock wanted to be one of the most recognizable figures in the GOP House and he’s getting his wish.

    Sometimes it’s just better to plod along like a Denny Hastert and wait for seniority and opportunity to provide some move up opportunities.

    Some politicians believe all publicity is good publicity. No it isn’t.

  17. - Responsa - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:08 pm:

    Whoever’s behind this is taking a big chance. If ultimately there’s no “there” there, and it’s perceived to have all been a set up by his political opponents or someone else as personal harassment, Schock will emerge both stronger and more sympathetic in his district. But if there’s something amiss in how he manages his ethics, let’s know now.

  18. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    No matter the how’s and why’s… He has some splannin to do…

  19. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    There is obviously something going behind the scenes. What the Dems. and liberals have to remember is that their own house better be in order while making these complaints. You now, glass houses. Schock should have known better or at least used a little more restraint. I get the feeling it’s all down hill from here.

  20. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    ===I doubt very seriously that Democrats have any prospects of a future win in the 18th===

    Me too, and I’ve written that several times.

  21. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    Dems are having fun. Media is being played, but it doesn’t care because he’s a Republican. It’s my understanding that the lawyers are to lead an internal review, not provide a criminal defense. Could be wrong about that.
    I don’t think Schock is so foolish as to engage in improprieties, but he wouldn’t be the first member of Congress seduced by the perks.

  22. - IrishPirate - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    This likely isn’t about switching that District from Red to Blue. It’s about hurting Schock’s fundraising ability, his chances of moving on to higher office and the GOP as a whole.

    Plus it’s just fun. It’s like looking at former Congressman Jackson’s excesses with the mooseheads etc and just shaking your head at the silliness of it all.

  23. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    === the ‘ultimate hitman’ may well end up throwing that uppercut into his own face. ===

    That could happen. But this has all come out on a schedule. There’s definitely a plan.

  24. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    Who and why are good questions with probable easy answers. The better question is how can Schock be so blatantly stupid as to think this kind of behavior (or the perception thereof)would not come back to bite him.

  25. - mcb - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:21 pm:

    - Pot calling kettle -

    The big stories have all come from oppo dumps, or caches of files, even when the news budgets were better. Any great investigative journalism has typically had a large amount of the work handed to them. i.e. Watergate and Deepthroat, the FBI did the investigating, then the Dep Director handed it to Woodward and Bernstein.

  26. - Bigtwich - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:22 pm:

    The Guardian has had some stuff on him. Did they hire an Illinois corespondent? I relly liked the “Tangoing on the streets of Buenos Aires” picture.

  27. - Put the Fun in unfunded - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:23 pm:

    It’s a Schock and awe campaign!

  28. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:23 pm:

    mcb, a whistleblower or good citizen or even official leak is much different from a politically motivated oppo dump.

  29. - Ray del Camino - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:24 pm:

    Too bad. You’d think he ought to know better, but then we forget how young he really is.

  30. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:25 pm:

    With two Jones Day attorneys on his legal team, Rep. Schock is looking at some serious bills. Those guys don’t shake hands for less than $900/hr. Who’s paying or are they volunteering time?

  31. - walker - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    A lot of suspects, none of them doing anything worthwhile for any of us. Sometimes slimemeisters just cannot stop — and they’ll put this one on their resumes.

  32. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:29 pm:

    I really hope things work out for Mr Schock. Not that I particularly like the guy. But the “next in line” group of GOPers waiting for a Congressional seat in the 18th is abhorrent.

  33. - Apocalypse Now - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    He is an embarrassment to the Republican Party.

  34. - Jorge - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:39 pm:

    Schock called Saul. I don’t blame him one bit.

  35. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:41 pm:

    Anonin, I agree there’s some motivation to knock down Schock in regards to Kirk’s Senate seat. Perhaps a bipartisan effort.

    I don’t buy the “he’s an effective fundraiser” theory. All Congress does is fundraise. If Schock were gone, the next GOP guy on Ways and Means would get the money.

  36. - GraduatedCollegeStudent - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:42 pm:

    ====I really hope things work out for Mr Schock. Not that I particularly like the guy. But the “next in line” group of GOPers waiting for a Congressional seat in the 18th is abhorrent.====

    Oh come on, Mayor Jim “police raid over parody twitter account” Ardis would be an excellent representative in Congress. /snark

  37. - Roscoe Tom - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:43 pm:

    If only he hadn’t tried to write off the tanning spas that the Speaker suggested.

  38. - QCLib - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:44 pm:

    Completely unintentionally, I’ve had quite a few comments deleted recently. Sorry about that.

    I wonder if this is just an attempt to create a larger narrative about Republicans in general. If they can uncover something large enough for Schock to resign or something, it could taint media coverage coming into 2016. First, Michael Grimm, now moving onto Schock. That begins to tell a story of corruption.

  39. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:44 pm:

    Schadenfreude no longer.

    If this is just a partisan coordinated build up to what the ==ultimate== angle of all this could be, then it is disgusting and a betrayal of the ethical conduct CREW claims to represent as a c3 nonprofit.

  40. - QCLib - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    All of this really does make Schock an easy target. He’s practically painting a bullseye on himself. He shouldn’t be surprised when he lives in so much excess and subsequently becomes a target.

  41. - ChicagoR - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:47 pm:

    I just like that the travel issue came out because of a complete lack of “selfie control” on the part of the young Congressman. Maybe some other members of his generation will learn from this example.

  42. - Century Club - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:49 pm:

    I second Wordslinger’s comment. This is setting the table for the kind of ugly stuff that sets our country back. And if it’s the Dems behind this, it won’t be Schock who is the hypocrit at the end of the day.

  43. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:50 pm:

    I feel bad, but I am kind of impressed by this. Well-done, well-orchestrated. Professional. I’m taking notes.

  44. - Insta Schock - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 1:59 pm:

    A teachable moment here is to always turn off location services for your social media apps.

  45. - Illini97 - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 2:02 pm:

    As ChicagoR alluded to:

    Social media is a powerful tool…for both sides. Be careful.

  46. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 2:05 pm:

    ==What a bunch of creeps==

    ==‘ultimate hitman’ may well end up throwing that uppercut into his own face==

    Have a laugh at the Abbey décor, go after him on the travel and lavish lifestyle, and scrutinize those disclosure filings. That is all part of the game. Going beyond risks hanging yourself.

  47. - A guy - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 2:07 pm:

    They piled on Roskam a couple years ago as well. Unfortunately, Aaron has given them a little more to work with. Being unpopular everywhere but your own district can work just fine for a Congressman. I think everyone agrees Schock sees himself elsewhere in time. They’re trying to cap him. The best revenge would be to ascend to a Committee Chairman in the Majority. That might not be his special place.

  48. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 2:10 pm:

    FKA, that’s why you hire these jobs out.

    There was no paper trail to tie Rauner to the attack spots on Schock way back when. Schock certainly thought Rauner was behind it. Rauner categorically denied it.

  49. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 2:37 pm:

    Sorry for being obtuse, but does anyone have an idea how much most MOCs and Senators spend in D.C. on fluff - and does anyone think that MOCs or Senators ever pay for anything?! Meals for staff and family alone cost hundreds if not thousands. None of these folks ever use their own money to pay for sporting events, plane flights for “official” business, hotels/ancillaries for political trips and rental space for meals/meetings. Schock has been a tad sloppy and he’s been subject to some “sunlight”, but this is a hitpiece that was basically picked up by the AP as news.

    Schock is a very real threat to run for U.S. Senate. The dude would be a serious challenger to Mark Kirk if Kirk’s folks don’t do their absolute best to head him off at the pass. I think Schock would be a much better candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016 than Mark Kirk. I’m pretty sure the Dems see that, too, and are taking a page outta the old Bruce Rauner playbook.

    Schock really needs to get his house in order, too. I’ve noted before that he’s lost a lot of experience and brainpower in his office and he’s not been too savvy when replacing those key players. He better ramp/amp up his game.

  50. - nikobey - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    Unfortunately for him, Congressman Schock bears a heavy responsibility for the difficulties in which he finds himself. His reckless conduct and relentless quest for publicity have left him vulnerable to ongoing attacks from Democratic operatives and to further scrutiny from the press. Another example of the hubris/nemesis syndrome.

  51. - Me - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    Dems just trying to distract everyone from the failure called Obama. Especially vetoing the keystone pipeline yesterday and killing thousands of jobs. This type of dump will be going on for the next two years.

  52. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:06 pm:

    – He is an embarrassment to the Republican Party–

    How so?

  53. - moby - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:08 pm:

    If you camt stand the heat get outta the kitchen. And stop firing the oven.

  54. - vole - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:26 pm:

    Schock has attempted to self justify the lavish spending and travel because he is among the GOP’s top 5 fund raisers in Congress. He seems to be aspiring toward a very elite standard of living that in itself has been the source of a lot of political corruption in Illinois. It also does not say much about the entire political system or about Schock himself that he is so trapped within the money = power game in D.C. And that he prides himself on that ability. It is no longer the House of Representatives. It is the House of Ascension.

  55. - Bemused - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:29 pm:

    I think Wordslinger at 2:10 is on top of it. Someone already demonstrated in the Governors race how this works. Slap someone around early on and get them out of the way. I suspect this is going to happen more often and not just to Schock.

    As to Schock I am not a fan. He was handed the keys to the kingdom at a young age. This kind of stuff may mean he has yet to mature into the position.

  56. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:38 pm:

    – Dems just trying to distract everyone from that failure called Obama. Especially vetoing the Keystone pipeline….–

    That ODS is powerful stuff. Any issue, any action, anywhere in the world, can be traced back to one source.

    I understand the cable and radio yakkers who sell it. There’s a buck to be made.

    But those who buy it, whole hog? So beyond reason it’s cult like.

  57. - What Difference Does It Make? - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:40 pm:

    Facts are facts and the truth is the truth. Why should anyone care whether AP thought of this on their own or whether they were led to the trough by someone with an agenda? Much like cops who rely on snitches, journalists, like it or not, rely on tips from folks with axes to grind and operatives with bosses to please. If the goods brought to the AP, or anyone else, via oppo dump hold water after being checked out and vetted by professional journalists, I don’t see a problem. Guessing who’s behind it is a parlor game that should not detract from the more important question of whether these things are true or not. I think that journalists who ignored this oppo dump, if in fact it is an oppo dump, would not be very good journalists.

    As for CREW, I don’t know as much about this outfit as a lot of other people, but I do recall that they were right in the thick blasting Jesse Jackson Jr. for inappropriate, turns out illegal, use of campaign funds long before any charges were filed. Jackson is hardly a right winger.

  58. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===Why should anyone care whether AP thought of this on their own ===

    Because I’m pretty darned curious about who, exactly, is behind this. The fact that you’re not doesn’t concern me. if that bothers you so much, feel free to simply go away.

  59. - A guy - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:48 pm:

    There’s just no way AP could have or would have devoted this much time and effort to this. Look at an index of what they’ve reported on and find something comparable.

  60. - What Difference Does It Make? - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:49 pm:

    ==The fact that you’re not doesn’t concern me==

    I didn’t say that I wasn’t curious, but I do see it as somewhat a parlor game. I didn’t mean that in pejorative sense. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Aren’t you interested in seeing just how serious this might get, regardless of who is behind it?

  61. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:56 pm:

    AP is picking up the Politico stories.

  62. - mainstream republican - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 3:57 pm:

    Schock brought all this on himself. He cared more about having the good and over the top life than concentrating on needs of his district. Sure he showed up to a few pancake breakfasts and farm bureau meetings, but then jetted off on someone else’s dime (ours??) to exotic locations.

  63. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 4:05 pm:

    Difference - the thing that worries me is that the AP or even some state networks will start running with “stories” funneled to them by operatives. Of course, there’s a difference between a press release or a candidate statement and this. But regurgitating reports - especially in an era of decreased coverage and consolidated media - sets a pretty dangerous precedence.

  64. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    I also wonder whether his donors really want to see their money used for fancy trips. It may not be illegal or unethical, but it might cause his big-money supporters to think twice when they write those checks.

  65. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    MS, I dont get your points. Schock was re-elected with 75 percent of the vote last November. His district seems to like him just fine.

    The heat is coming from DC, not his district.

  66. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Feb 25, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    Soccermom - my guess is that a lot of his big donors either don’t care or expect it. If you look at most MOC fundraising reports, a lion’s share comes from national PACs. I’m sure he’s catching some grief when he’s out and about in Peoria, but I can’t imagine the D.C. social crews are too upset that he goes to the CMAs.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* *** UPDATED x2 *** Emanuel/Emmanuel
* You gotta be pretty gullible to believe a "Departing Taxpayer Fee" is actually a thing
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