McCaskill Used Private Plane to Campaign for Obama

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

Remember that plane Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) pledged to sell (and pay back the $287,273 for four years worth of back taxes)?  You know, the one she used to bill taxpayers for her political trips?

According to disbursement reports, on June 16, 2008, Obama For America paid $3,938 to Sunset Cove Associates, LLC in West Lockwood, St. Louis, MO.

Sunset Cove Associates was incorporated by McCaskill’s husband in 2002, and is the same company McCaskill’s campaign paid for her chartered air travel.  It is also the parent company of the Delaware-based Timesaver LLC.  Sunset Cove has received taxpayer dollars, while Timesaver LLC is the actual owner of McCaskill’s plane (which is registered in Delaware).

My initial speculation was that this likely was a reimbursement for a trip Obama’s campaign took on McCaskill’s plane.  But Maria Speiser, spokesperson for Sen. McCaskill, tells me this was a reimbursement for a trip Senator McCaskill took to South Carolina to campaign on Obama’s behalf. (***See update below).

McCaskill was an early backer of Obama’s presidential campaign, endorsing him just after he lost in New Hampshire.  Throughout the campaign, she was one of his most effective surrogates.

On a media conference call Tuesday, Lloyd Smith, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, called on McCaskill to “release the damn records.”  While McCaskill has not released tax records for Timesaver LLC or Sunset Cove Associates, personal disclosure records indicate she is the owner or co-owner of at least 281 LLC’s, LP’s and other companies.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) released a video this week, featuring images of Obama and McCaskill.  The video ends with McCaskill saying, “If my walk doesn’t match my talk, then shame on me and don’t ever vote for me again… We’re going to change the way we do business around here when it comes to transparency.”

Update: Maria Speiser, spokesperson for Sen. McCaskill, tells me this was a reimbursement for a trip Senator McCaskill took to South Carolina to campaign on Obama’s behalf.  $3,938 seems like a lot of money to travel from Missouri (or DC) to South Carolina and back (Federal election rules allow presidential candidates to reimburse corporate plane owners for the price of first-class commercial tickets).  Additionally, McCaskill did a tremendous amount of surrogate work for Obama, so it’s interesting that there appears to be only one instance of a reported disbursement.

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