US. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., talks with Missouri Attorney General and likely Republican challenger Josh Hawley during the Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
What could be more quintessential in American politics than a candidate getting out of their bubble and meeting the serfs by touring their demesne via bus or motorhome?
Claire McCaskill, who the Fish and Wildlife Service has officially added to the Endangered Species Act, was doing just that a little earlier in the week.
Very excited to hit the road next week in this. Names anyone for the RV? We are off on a “Veterans for Claire” tour on Tuesday morning. pic.twitter.com/XihjI71AjV
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) May 26, 2018
Then some people with the right technology and, arguably, too much time on their hands discovered something very strange:
Crowdsourced GPS-based public flight tracking data reveals Senator Claire McCaskill's million-dollar private jet took the same route as her campaign RV while they were "hitting the road" to tour her state after she asked the FAA to stop tracking her plane https://t.co/6YL0o92rU1 pic.twitter.com/l8Rxyg3bmB
— Anna Massoglia (@annalecta) June 12, 2018
Via Free Beacon:
McCaskill has taken steps to hide the use of her plane. In a 2017 email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, the senator asked the Federal Aviation Administration to block radar tracking information on her plane from being publicly broadcast on the internet. The request blocks the ability to track her plane on websites such as FlightAware.com.
Websites such as ADS-B Exchange, however, use a different type of data transmission to make tracking information available to the public. Community members of the crowd-sourced website upload the ADS-B information broadcast by the plane and upload it straight into the site’s free database, which can in turn be used to track planes such as McCaskill’s.
The GPS-based data transmitted by McCaskill’s plane for the days of her RV tour across Missouri indicates that it was used to travel between campaign stops.
On Tuesday, May 29, for example, McCaskill’s tour took her from Waynesville in central Missouri, west to Springfield, and then further west to nearby Joplin, according to the campaign’s blog.
— Chris Hansen (@tankcat) June 12, 2018
At first, there was the denial:
Claire McCaskill supposedly went on a folksy RV tour of Missouri.
*Purely by coincidence*, her million dollar private plane kept taking off and landing at the places she was visiting https://t.co/LwHfUw6FCu
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) June 12, 2018
But, as is so often the case, the truth will out:
McCaskill claimed that a report on her air travel in The Washington Free Beacon, which used aircraft tracking data to map the plane’s path following her RV tour for two of its three days, was “not accurate.” However, she went further than the publication did in confirming that she did use a plane for part of the tour.
“I added some stops with the use of the plane, but I was on the RV so much that the broken drawer drove me crazy,” McCaskill said in a brief Tuesday interview in the Capitol, adding that “I even lost an iPad around a corner on the RV.”
She disputed the notion that the use of the plane allowed her to “pretend” that she was using an RV rather than the multi-million-dollar plane, reportedly purchased by her husband’s company in 2013.
“I spent two-plus days on the RV,” McCaskill said, and the plane “picked me up at the end of one day, after I spent all day on the RV” before being used to add “some stops.” The RV wasn’t used during that added portion of the tour, she said.
“Anybody could have followed me. They could have seen when I got off the RV and when I went and got on the airplane,” she continued, describing the report as “election-year silliness.”
Again, let Richard Belzer in his role as Detective John Munch on Homicide: Life on the Streets respond:
The plane data doesn’t show any side trips added–and neither does the live blog of this odyssey mention either an airplane or added stops, rather it follows the RV route. The more logical explanation is that McCaskill was picked up by the airplane so she could arrive at scheduled stops by RV.
While I think a lot of folks would have understood McCaskill using a plane to make campaign stops around Missouri, fewer are going to understand the faux RV tour, the request to the FAA to hide the plane’s location, and the lying when the scam was exposed.
And then came the pile-on.
.@clairecmc’s definition of being “the hardest working Democrat in the Party.” Skipping out on her luxury RV to fly in her luxury jet. It must be good to be rich and liberal. #MOSen https://t.co/IvjlSx6VxN
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) June 12, 2018
I thought you sold the “damn plane.” How about this: why don’t you give up using your luxury jet for the next 147 days? Just 147 days. You can do it. Come live like the rest of us. I dare you #MOSen https://t.co/IvjlSx6VxN
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) June 12, 2018
Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony! Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
This came as manna from Heaven for Josh Hawley who is locked in a neck-and-neck race with McCaskill. Trump beat Clinton by 19 points in Missouri and that puts McCaskill in grave danger. This story is tailor-made for campaign ads and it is going to do damage so long as Hawley is willing to put in the hard work necessary to win the race. And that is a question mark.
I’m on Facebook. Drop by and join the fun there.