- 21 июня 2018, 13:00
- POLITICO. Top Stories
A conservative watchdog group on Thursday will request that the Senate Ethics Committee investigate Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) over her reporting of income from the private plane owned by her husband.
McCaskill’s use of the aircraft is drawing heavy fire from Republicans as she battles her challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, in one of the midterm election’s most hotly contested races. The two-term Democrat confirmed last week that she had traveled by plane during part of a recent campaign tour billed as going by RV, prompting an onslaught of GOP criticism for her use of more lavish transportation.
The ethics investigation request, filed by the right-leaning Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, cites McCaskill’s 2017 Senate financial disclosure, which reported between $0 and $201 of income from the plane owned by her husband’s company. When McCaskill’s husband bought the plane in 2013, her office stated that it would be chartered for outside use in addition to primary use by his company and occasional use by the senator.
Pointing to third-party websites that tally aircraft transponder data, FACT told the Ethics Committee that the plane “traveled more than 40,000 miles” last year. One charter plane ride at a typical rate for the McCaskill family plane, a Pilatus PC-12, “would likely generate more than $200 in income for the aircraft owner,” FACT’s executive director, Kendra Arnold, wrote in the group’s request, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.
“Therefore, it is clear that Senator McCaskill failed to report income generated from frequently chartering this plane to others,” Arnold added.
A McCaskill spokeswoman said that Senate financial disclosure forms require the reporting of total net profits, rather than gross revenues, meaning that she reported effectively zero income from the plane because it operated at a loss for the year.
“Hawley and his friends are desperate to distract from the fact that he supports ripping healthcare protections away from 2.5 million Missourians and refuses to stand up for Missouri farmers in the President’s trade war,“ Meira Bernstein, McCaskill‘s campaign spokeswoman, said by email.
“But this phony allegation from a GOP front group will do nothing to prevent Missourians from learning about Josh Hawley‘s decision to destroy protections for pre-existing conditions and fatten the profits of the health insurance industry.“
Investigation requests such as FACT’s are a common feature of hard-fought re-election races like McCaskill’s, deployed as a political weapon against vulnerable candidates and rarely resulting in a public finding of misconduct.
Still, the move is a sign that conservatives see McCaskill’s plane use as one of their most viable targets to undercut her ahead of her November faceoff with Hawley. A previous private plane owned by the McCaskill family bedeviled the senator during her 2012 re-election fight, as she reimbursed the Treasury Department more than $88,000 amid a controversy over unpaid taxes on the aircraft before selling it.
But McCaskill isn’t shrinking from Republican hits about the plane, on which her office says it pays for any flights using personal rather than office budgetary funds. After President Donald Trump slammed McCaskill’s use of the plane during her RV trip as “phony,” she pushed back, saying: “Paying on my own dime to visit more Missouri veterans is not something I’m going to apologize for.”