Missouri Sen. McCaskill sells private plane

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 1:41 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON — Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has sold a private plane she co-owns with her husband, months after her use of it for official business and failure to pay back taxes created a political headache.

In April, McCaskill said she would "sell the damn plane" after a series of damaging revelations. First she repaid the government $88,000 after she was criticized for reimbursing herself for use of the plane on official and political travel. Then she paid an initial $287,000, rising to $320,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest to St. Louis County.

"Claire said she would sell the plane, and she did," said Trevor Kincaid, a McCaskill spokesman. "True to her word as always."

Kincaid said the plane sold for approximately $1.9 million to Northeast Montana Stat Air Ambulance Cooperative, which was a loss.

McCaskill, seeking re-election in 2012, faces a tough race in a state she narrowly won in 2006. Republicans have pounded McCaskill on the plane, dubbing it "Air Claire" and using it to damage McCaskill's reputation as a champion of good government.

Three Republicans are vying to take her on: Rep. Todd Akin, St. Louis-area businessman John Brunner and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

After McCaskill's troubles surfaced, Republicans filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee, which was dismissed. Reimbursement for official travel is allowed under Senate rules but not for political travel. McCaskill reimbursed the government for all of her travel with the plane.

Even with the plane's sale, Missouri Republicans and the eventual GOP Senate nominee are certain to highlight the issue as McCaskill runs for re-election.

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