‘Air Claire’ Scandal Turns: McCaskill Ponies Up $287K In Back Taxes

March 21, 2011 1:06 pm

Well, this isn’t the way to put a scandal to bed. As if the fact that she charged taxpayers for her flights around Missouri in a private plane she owns with her husband and several investors wasn’t enough, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has revealed that she hasn’t paid personal property taxes on the plane for four years.

And what’s worse for McCaskill supporters, she suggested there might be more plane-related bad news to come.

The Senator told reporters today she’s sending a check for $287,273 to St. Louis County, where the twin-engine plane she used to hop around Missouri is based. According to Politico, McCaskill also “said she had campaign lawyers looking into the flights to determine if any more in-kind contributions needed to be reported to be in compliance.” That means there could me more news about the plane Republicans are already calling ClaireAir down the road.McCaskill said she “discovered that the personal property taxes on the plane have not been paid” after conducting an audit of the 89 flights she repaid the Treasury for after reporters starting asking questions. It’s not uncommon for Senators to use charter planes for official travel, and it’s well within the rules for them to charge the federal government for the cost of that travel. But McCaskill admitted that one of the flights was political and had been improperly charged to taxpayers. She also repaid the government for all the rest of the flights, while still defending their legality.

Today, however, she revealed that she will be writing more checks, this time to cover county property taxes.

“There are people I could blame for this, but I know better. I take full responsibility,” she told reporters, according to Politico. “This was a mistake, it should have been reported in Missouri. It will be paid in Missouri today.”

She also said the continuing revelations about the plane have made her “sick to my stomach.”

State Republicans already have a response to McCaskill’s apology: Too little, too late.

“In the past two weeks, we have learned that Claire McCaskill billed taxpayers for political travel and failed to pay nearly $300,000 in personal property taxes on her plane,” Missouri Republican party chair David Cole said in a statement. “These actions are unacceptable evasions of the law by McCaskill, who brags about her background as an auditor, lawyer, and self-described government watchdog.”

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