Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill reminds me of the Seinfeld episode "The Opposite", where George decides that in order to succeed, he must do the opposite of every instinct he ever had. For years now, just like George Castanza, Claire McCaskill has said one thing and done the opposite. Missouri GOP executive director Lloyd Smith notes:
"Time after time, Missourians have watched as Claire McCaskill says one thing and does the opposite. McCaskill complained about excessive government spending—then she voted for the failed stimulus bill, Obamacare, and bailout after bailout. She criticized cap-and-trade legislation—then she voted to allow the EPA to impose draconian regulations on carbon dioxide. She condemned extravagant taxpayer-funded travel by members of Congress—then she billed taxpayers for her own travel on her husband’s private plane. Although she pretends to be different, Claire McCaskill is exactly the kind of double-speaking Washington politician that Missourians are sick and tired of. "
But now Claire has a problem. After trumpeting a message of "common sense reform" to congressional travel practices, Ms. Castanza McCaskill has apparently been doing exactly the opposite: flying around the country in a private plane owned by her own husband and charging the expenses to the taxpayers. This story broke last week, when Politico reported that she had billed us for over $76,000 spent on at least 89 different trips. And this isn't the first time Claire has been caught with her hands in the aviation cookie jar. During the 2006 Senate campaign, she and her millionaire husband were nailed for using a $3M plane that was registered in Delaware, a state that, unlike Missouri, has no personal property tax on private planes.
Apparently Claire and her husband didn't learn that lesson about personal property taxes back in 2006. Today McCaskill admitted that they have not paid those taxes on their plane for the last four years. Grand total of four years of "avoided" personal property taxes on this $3M plane: $287,273. (And yes, this is apparently the same plane that was questioned in 2006, so it's not like they haven't heard this before.) Pleading ignorance isn't an acceptable excuse either: Mr. Shepard paid over $1000 in taxes on their two vehicles in 2010, and (at least in my county) personal property tax declaration forms are issued every year - forms that clearly document the types of property that must be declared. To McCaskill's credit, she will be paying back the money she bilked out of taxpayers and the dodged taxes - to the tune of over $300,000. How nice that she's able to write a check that big...unsurprising for one of Washington's wealthiest politicians - she and her husband were worth an estimated $15.5M in 2009.
This wouldn't be big news if not for McCaskill's tendency to say one thing and do the other, as Mr. Smith noted in the quote above. Back in February, she co-sponsored a bill "that would fire federal employees if they are “seriously delinquent” in paying their own federal taxes.", and Politico reports that back in 2009, she
...blasted the House Appropriations Committee for approving nearly $200 million for three Gulfstream 550 jets to carry members of Congress, military leaders and top administration officials.
The Missouri GOP has filed a complaint with the Senate's "Select Committee on Ethics", asking them to look at possible violations of Senate Rule 37 and how she has potentially misused taxpayer funds for her own interests. Lloyd Smith concludes the complaint document with a quote from McCaskill's own web site:
Nothing irritates Americans more than the fact that some members of Congress think that they are entitled to their own set of rules. And it's true - too many people in Washington live in an alternate reality. It's time for that to stop.
Why yes, Claire, it is. It's time for you to stop ripping off taxpayers and come out of your alternate reality world where you can say one thing, do another, and expect us to ignore your hypocrisy.