Politics And Private Airplanes Collide In Missouri

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The use of private aviation by public figures is back in the spotlight, this time in Missouri where the state's former auditor and now Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has admitted to some bookkeeping lapses of her own. Last week, she cut a check to the Department of the Treasury for $88,000 to reimburse the government for charter fees she'd billed while flying in the Pilatus PC-12 she owns with her husband, St Louis developer Joe Shepard. McCaskill said the whole thing was an "innocent mistake" but, as can happen when issues like this hit the public arena, there were some further complications for the senator and the checkbook got another workout.

It turns out that even though the aircraft is registered with Shepard's Delaware company, Timesaver LLC, Missouri property taxes still apply and on Monday McCaskill paid four years worth of back taxes on the $3 million Pilatus, a total of $290,000. That revelation has prompted a call by her political opponents to make her personal income tax returns available for scrutiny, something she's not legally obliged to do but, according to her critics, is morally compelled to do given her election platform and recent statements. McCaskill ran on a "transparency" ticket.