According to a recent survey by howmuch.net, the richest politician in the Midwest is Missouri’s own high-flying Sen. Claire McCaskill with an estimated net worth of $60 million. (Hat tip to Tony’s Kansas City).
The financial website lists the richest politician in each state. By contrast to McCaskill with her $60 million, the wealthiest politico in Kansas is Sen. Pat Roberts with $3 million. In the Midwest, the closest competitor to McCaskill, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, falls more than $13 million short. The richest politician in the nation is Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman from California.
With wealth, however, comes complications. In September of this year, the Kansas City Star did a surprisingly serious expose of McCaskill’s relationship with a shady nursing home mogul named Rick DeStefane. DeStefane and McCaskill’s husband, Joseph Shepard, co-own a luxurious summer home at the Lake of the Ozarks. The Star reporters concisely described DeStefane as “a close family friend, a regular campaign donor and a nursing home executive with a track record of serious safety problems in an industry the senator has vowed to clean up.”
Over the years DeStefane has given more than $60,000 to McCaskill and her supportive PACs. Most recently, he gave McCaskill $5,400, the maximum allowed for this election cycle. Although the senator has returned some recent donations, including ones from Rosie O’Donnell and opiod manufacturer Pfizer, she has not seen fit to return DeStefane’s donations. She should have.
Two days after DeStefane’s donation in June, 2016, he signed an agreement with the federal government to settle a Medicare fraud case against him and his nursing home company, Reliant Care Group, for $8.3 million. They were accused of “knowingly” submitting false claims for unnecessary therapies provided to the nursing home residents.
More troubling than the fraud is the chronic defenestration problem. Patients at the DeStefane’s nursing homes have the unfortunate habit of falling out windows. In November 2016, a a 45-year-old resident fell to his death from a third-floor window at the Hannibal facility. In March of this year, a 55-year-old resident was injured falling out a third floor window of the same building. There had been at least one other serious incident in the past. “You don’t routinely see people falling out of windows,” an aging advocate told the Star.
The Star reporters gave McCaskill no quarter on the hypocrisy front. As they noted, she emerged as the top Democrat on the Special Committee on Aging and now serves on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid spending. The reporters then hung McCaskill with a quote from a Senate hearing she co-chaired last year: “Elder abuse and exploitation of any kind is a tragedy, but it is particularly painful when abuse is being perpetrated by those who have been entrusted to protect the victims.” Boom!
McCaskill had previously gotten into the kind of hot water only the richest among us can when she failed to pay $300,000 in property taxes on her private plane for four years. This fact came to light in 2010 and became a contentious and embarrassing controversy. In 2011, she sold her 2001 Pilatus PC-12/45 aircraft at a loss.
This November, McCaskill waded deeper into the muck when she took steps to hide the use of her family’s private plane. The Washington Free Beacon reported that a company hired by McCaskill to operate the aircraft asked the FAA to block its tracking information from the public.
The Democrats, of course, have long assailed the Republicans as “the party of the rich,” but McCaskill has done a good job of undoing that reputation.