McCaskill misses deadline to recover $1 million she loaned her campaign

Friday, June 13, 2008 | 10:27 p.m. CDT; updated 2:21 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WASHINGTON — Sen. Claire McCaskill is saying goodbye to more than $1 million that she lent her failed campaign for governor in 2004.

Friday was the deadline for the Missouri Democrat to raise enough money to recover a $1.6 million personal loan to her campaign four years ago. But spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh said the lawmaker has managed to raise abound $500,000 toward retiring the debt. The rest cannot be recovered because state law sets a time limit on recouping election debt.

“Frankly, when it comes down to it, she’d rather be doing her job and going after waste and fraud than be stuck on the phone asking for money,” Marsh said.

While the unpaid debt is substantial, McCaskill has been described as one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

According to her personal financial disclosure released Friday, McCaskill owns investments worth as little as $51,000 and as much as $230,000. Her husband, housing developer Joseph Shepard, holds more than 300 investments in real estate partnerships, companies and other accounts worth at least $18.3 million and possibly more than twice that amount.

The forms, filed each year by all 535 members of Congress, report assets and liabilities in broad ranges that make it impossible to determine exactly how much each lawmaker is worth.

McCaskill “did her best” to recover the debt, Marsh said, but the senator was hampered by “strict, self-imposed fundraising limitations and an aggressive schedule in the Senate.”

Some campaign groups had criticized McCaskill for using her clout as a senator to help retire debt from the governor’s race, especially when the money raised was going to McCaskill’s bank account. But the process was legal under federal and state election laws.

Under Missouri law, a candidate has 18 months to pay off campaign debts. McCaskill moved the debt to her state auditor campaign committee in 2005, giving her extra time to repay it, then restructured her auditor committee into a debt service committee in 2006, giving her additional time.

She did not begin trying to recoup the old debt until after she was elected to the Senate.

Earlier this year, the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, pegged McCaskill’s net worth at around $24 million and ranked her the 26th wealthiest congressional lawmaker based on its analysis of last year’s report.

That’s well above that of Missouri’s senior senator, Republican Kit Bond. His latest financial disclosure report on Friday showed assets ranging from as little as $265,000 to as much as $1 million. The report shows Bond’s wife, Linda, who works at a political fundraising firm, has assets of at least $693,000 and as much as $2 million.

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