McCaskill to reimburse government $88,000 for flights chartered from firm she co-owns

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 7:42 PM

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday that she would reimburse the government $88,000 for flights chartered from a company she jointly owns with her husband.

McCaskill's office said she had not profited from the flights and that she was returning the money out of concern for how the arrangement might appear.

"Sen. McCaskill has been very careful flying on taxpayer dollars," said Maria Speiser, a spokeswoman for McCaskill. "She has only paid for the use of her plane as required by the Senate rules, and there has been no profit to her or her family. She's glad there's transparency - that's why people can see this information."

The use of the plane and her decision to return the money was first reported by Politico, which found that McCaskill had spent $76,000 on the flights in the past four years.

McCaskill and her husband have a net worth of at least $15 million, according to an estimate from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. A disclosure form detailing her personal finances lists her ownership of Sunset Cove Associates LLC as a joint asset with her husband, Joe Shepard, who built a fortune in real estate.

Senators frequently spend substantial amounts on charter planes for official travel, paid with public dollars.

"Sen. McCaskill is interested in three things when it comes to using a charter plane to travel in Missouri: doing it as cheaply as possible, following the letter of the law, and doing it as rarely as possible," Speiser said in her statement. "However, despite all of this being the case, she understands that the optics of the bigger picture may not seem as cut and dry, so she's more than happy to address that concern as well."


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