Sen. Claire McCaskill acknowledged Monday that she and her husband failed to pay $287,000 in property taxes on a private aircraft that she used for official Senate travel and announced she intended to sell the “damn” plane.
The Missouri Democrat, who is up for re-election in 2012, announced earlier this month that she would pay the U.S. Treasury $88,000 after a report in Politico that McCaskill had used official funds to pay for fuel and other costs related to her use of the plane for Senate-related duties and at least one political event.
“The former auditor in me wanted to take a really close look at everything surrounding this plane. So I began a thorough review of the plane and all of the flights that have been taken,” McCaskill said, according to a recording of the conference call provided by her office.
McCaskill said her review revealed that she and her husband had failed to pay property taxes on the plane following its purchase in 2007. She vowed to immediately repay those taxes, which amounted to about $287,000 in total.
“I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane. He has hired a broker. And I can tell you I will not be setting foot on the plane ever again,” McCaskill said. “This is just more trouble than it’s worth,” she later added.
She emphasized that the couple had not sought to hide the plane from tax authorities, noting that the couple had paid monthly sales taxes related to aircraft totaling nearly $39,000.
“This is just a mistake, which as I said, I take responsibility for,” McCaskill said.
In addition, the Missouri lawmaker said her review remains open and she is reviewing whether her campaign committee may need to report additional in-kind contributions for use of the aircraft.
“We are determining if in-kind contributions from me need to be filed,” she said.
The Missouri Republican Party announced this month that it requested that the Senate Ethics Committee investigate McCaskill and her use of the aircraft.
McCaskill is a top target for defeat by the GOP in 2012, when she will face her first re-election test. The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Monday circulated a video hitting McCaskill on the plane issue.
“Can Missouri voters even believe anything Senator McCaskill says anymore? This is the third time in less than two weeks that she’s had to change her story about her private plane, and she only admitted any of her wrongdoing once she got caught by the media,” NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer said in a statement after McCaskill’s conference call. “Now, millionaire Claire McCaskill wants to simply write yet another big check and hope people won’t ask any more questions.”