Claire McCaskill Gets Her Wings Clipped

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 21 2011 2:49 PM

Claire McCaskill Gets Her Wings Clipped

Dave Catanese wraps up* Claire McCaskill's scandalous airplane saga , with the senator apologizing for failing to pay property taxes on an airplane owned by her husband.

"I have discovered that the personal property taxes on the plane have not been paid.  There should have been a reporting to the county of the existence of this plane.   There are people I could blame for this, but I know better. I take full responsibility," McCaskill said to reporters, after revealing she had conducted her own audit of all 89 flights she had taken.

"This was a mistake, It should have been reported in Missouri.  It will be paid in Missouri today," she said.

McCaskill said she would be sending a check for $287,273 to St. Louis County Monday for the back taxes she owed between 2007 and 2010.


Scandals like these are often blown out of proportion. There are many ways for members of Congress to bilk taxpayers. These are minor ones that are just easier to explain to voters than, say, the tax or regulatory loopholes that these members will write for businesses. But this story hits McCaskill with unusual force because she's one of the folksiest politicians who ever pronounced Missouri with an "uh," and her get-out-of-jail-free card for the spending she's voted for has been pointed criticism of silly-sounded discretionary spending. And then there's what she said on February 3, 2009, when Tom Daschle gave up his DHS nomination over unpaid taxes:

You know, this whole situation kind of gives me a stomach ache. You know, this is a good guy who has worked hard and has such respect up on the Hill. I get the rules around here. The rules are you live in a glass house. And if you make a serious mistake like this, you pay the price.

But it is too bad, because he had a lot to offer our country. And I really admire him, because nobody made him do this. This wasn't the White House. This wasn't people in Congress. He decided it was the patriotic thing to do, because he was a distraction to this president at a time of crisis. He stepped aside. And he deserves a pat on the back for that.


*she hopes

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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