Former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill held a news conference Thursday afternoon in Columbia to “correct the record” on claims made in campaign ads for State Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

The ads in question accuse Judy Baker, his Democratic challenger for Missouri’s 19th Senate District, of mismanagement during her time as interim executive director of University Physicians, a multi-specialty group of doctors in the MU Health System.

“Even fellow Democrat Claire McCaskill said Judy Baker’s bad management practices cost taxpayers almost $2 million,” the ads assert.

McCaskill, who was state auditor at the time, addressed reporters outside the Boone County Government Building and elaborated on the audit her office conducted. In 2002, an audit of billing practices at MU Health System and University Physicians found that the groups lost more than $2 million by not billing patients quickly enough and writing off the charges.

The former senator, however, said Baker had nothing to do with the billing errors. “She was hired to fix the problem,” McCaskill said.

“It is so dishonest for Caleb Rowden to be using that as a way to try to give people the impression that I was critical of Judy Baker,” she added.

McCaskill said she would not have involved herself in this dispute if the ad had not invoked her name in attacking Baker.

“I really frankly am only doing this because they used my likeness and they lied about me, and they lied about Judy Baker in that context, and that’s why I’m here today,” she said

Rowden stood by the ads’ claims in a statement Thursday.

“Partisanship can’t stand in the way of facts,” the statement read. “I understand the statements Claire McCaskill made as Auditor are inconvenient today to her political preference. However, her statements were factual then and they are factual now.

“Judy Baker’s health care record is a failed one,” the statement continued. “We stand behind Auditor McCaskill’s audit, even if MSNBC political commentator McCaskill won’t.”

  • State Government reporter, fall 2020. I am a first-year graduate student studying public policy journalism. You can reach me at mokwb@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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