Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, took steps to hide the use of her family’s private plane from the public, the Washington Free Beacon reports. The paper learned a company hired by McCaskill to operate the aircraft asked the FAA to block its tracking information from the public.
The senior Senator from Missouri didn’t pay $300,000 in property taxes on her private plane for four years, a fact which came to light in 2010. It became a contentious and embarrassing controversy, and she sold her 2001 Pilatus PC-12/45 aircraft in 2011 for $1.9 million at a loss.
It appears, however, that Air Claire is back in business. After securing re-election in 2012, her husband’s company purchased a more expensive plane, a 2009 Pilatus PC-12/47E, that she disclosed she would occasionally use.
The Beacon reports that Obama administration changes made it easier for private jet owners to block aircraft tracking, but the FAA told the news outlet that it is rare for aircraft owners to make a request to have tracking of their movements blocked.
McCaskill told participants at one town hall meeting that a private plane is something “normal people can afford,” but she walked back the statement afterwards.
The Beacon reports McCaskill spent $21,000 in the last three months for use of the private jet to campaign. She also used it to travel between town hall meetings in Missouri last August.
McCaskill is in for the re-election fight of her life in 2018. She is one of the most endangered Senators, according to the Cook report. Despite a very good Democratic year in 2006, she was re-elected with only 50 percent of the vote. In 2012, she snatched victory from the jaws of defeat after the Republican nominee, Todd Akin, made explosive comments about legitimate rape. In 2016, she wasn’t on the ballot, but Trump won Missouri by 19 points. Stories about her continued use of a private jet isn’t likely to win the hearts of Missouri voters.
The Beacon published its story on McCaskill’s attempts to hide her private aircraft usage on Nov. 27. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the major newspapers in Missouri like the Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Dispatch to publish similar reports.