Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator
from Missouri
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Serving with Roy Blunt
Preceded by Jim Talent
34th State Auditor of Missouri
In office
Governor Mel Carnahan (1999-2000)
Roger B. Wilson (2000-2001)
Bob Holden (2001-2005)
Matt Blunt (2005-2007)
Preceded by Margaret B. Kelly
Succeeded by Susan Montee
Member of the
Missouri House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Claire Conner McCaskill
July 24, 1953 (1953-07-24) (age 58)
Rolla, Missouri
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) David Exposito (div.)
Joseph Shepard
Children Austin
Residence St. Louis, Missouri
Alma mater University of Missouri (B.A., J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Senator Claire McCaskill

Claire Conner McCaskill (pronounced /məˈkæskəl/; born July 24, 1953) is the senior United States Senator from Missouri and a member of the Democratic Party. She defeated Republican incumbent Jim Talent in the 2006 U.S. Senate election, by a margin of 49.6% to 47.3%.[1] She is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri in her own right. She became the state's senior U.S. Senator upon the retirement of Kit Bond in 2011.[2]

Before her election to the U.S. Senate, McCaskill was State Auditor of Missouri from 1999 to 2007. She previously served as Jackson County Prosecutor (1993–1998) and a member of the Missouri House of Representatives (1983–1988). She was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Missouri in the 2004 gubernatorial election. She is a native of Rolla and graduate of the University of Missouri.

In the U.S. Senate, McCaskill serves as a member of the Committee on Armed Services, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Special Committee on Aging. She is chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight.


Early life

McCaskill was born in Rolla, Missouri. McCaskill's father, William Young McCaskill, served as a state Insurance Commissioner during the administration of Governor Warren E. Hearnes.[3] The McCaskill family are of Scottish heritage. Her mother, Betty Anne (née Ward), was the first woman elected to the City Council of Columbia, Missouri. Interestingly, Betty Anne McCaskill lost a race for a seat in the state House of Representatives to Leroy Blunt, former Governor Matt Blunt's grandfather. McCaskill spent her early childhood in the small Missouri town of Houston, later moving to Lebanon, and eventually Columbia. McCaskill attended David H. Hickman High School in Columbia, where she was a cheerleader, Pep Club president, a member of the debate club, performed in school musicals, and was elected homecoming queen. While attending the University of Missouri, McCaskill joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority,[4] graduating in 1975 with a B.A. in political science. She received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Missouri Law School in 1978.

Early political career

Except for three years spent in private practice as an attorney at the firm of a Kansas City trial lawyer (1989 to 1991), McCaskill has worked in the public sector continuously since graduating from law school in 1978. Claire, following her graduation from law school, spent one year as a law clerk on the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District, which sits in Kansas City. Thereafter, McCaskill joined the Jackson County prosecutor's office where she specialized in arson cases. In 1982, McCaskill was elected to represent the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City in the Missouri House of Representatives, where she became the first female attorney to serve in that body in approximately 40 years. During her time in the House, McCaskill became the first Missouri state lawmaker to give birth while in office. McCaskill left the state House to contemplate running for Jackson County Prosecutor in 1988, but did not pursue the position when fellow Democrat and incumbent Prosecutor Albert Riederer decided to seek another term. In 1990, McCaskill was elected to the Jackson County Legislature (the equivalent of a county commission or county council). In 1991, McCaskill made a bold announcement when she expressed her intention to run for County Prosecutor. The announcement was significant in that the elected Democratic Prosecutor Riederer had not announced that he wasn't going to seek re-election. McCaskill then went on to an impressive victory in capturing the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office in 1992.

McCaskill was the first woman to serve as Jackson County Prosecutor, and was re-elected to that office in 1996. In 1998 McCaskill was elected to the position of State Auditor, and was the second woman State Auditor after her predecessor, Margaret B. Kelly.

2004 gubernatorial campaign

On August 3, 2004, McCaskill defeated Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary race, becoming the first person to defeat an incumbent governor in a primary election in state history.[5] McCaskill also was the first primary challenger to defeat an incumbent Governor in the United States since 1994,[6] when Bill Janklow defeated Walter Dale Miller in South Dakota, and Myrth York defeated Bruce Sundlun in Rhode Island. Despite McCaskill's victory, however, she was criticized by some Democrats for accepting campaign contributions from Anheuser-Busch, who had pulled their support for Holden after he vetoed a concealed weapons bill passed by the state legislature. On November 2, 2004, McCaskill lost to then-Secretary of State Matt Blunt in the general election by a margin of 51% to 48%. McCaskill's loss to Blunt was the first defeat in her 20-year political career.[7]

2006 U.S. Senate race

Both Talent and McCaskill easily defeated their opponents in their respective primaries on August 8, 2006. McCaskill and Talent debated each other on Meet the Press on October 8, 2006.[8] On November 8, 2006, McCaskill defeated Talent by a margin of 49.6% to 47.3%.

U.S. Senate tenure


McCaskill entered the U.S. Senate promising to raise the minimum wage and to work with her counterpart from Missouri, Republican Senator Kit Bond.

McCaskill speaking during a Senate hearing, January 12, 2007.

Armed services

She introduced legislation with then-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) after the Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal erupted which demanded the full accountability of wounded veterans and agencies that would ensure physical and mental health conditions being addressed. "Those who have fought this war and felt its effects most personally, our servicemen and women, deserve to have a real researched plan for dealing with the aftermath of their sacrifice, so that the mistakes made by the administration in war planning are not repeated in planning for the readjustment needs of these heroes," McCaskill noted on the Senate floor after Obama made comments about the same issue. McCaskill also took Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson to task over the "irresponsibility" regarding overlooking the Department of Veterans Affairs.[9]

In the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCaskill has made herself known for being aggressive by questioning officials in the Department of Defense and their "loose" spending habits. McCaskill grilled top officials of the military's auditing agencies for rewarding KBR for their Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract, a contract now valued at over $20 billion, despite audit reports indicating extreme contractor mismanagement and expansive overcharging of the U.S. government.[10] She has also been critical of DoD's auditors, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, based on a recent GAO report which alleges that audits were not properly supported or supervised, and in some cases been changed by managers in order to appease the procurement community and/or the audited contractor.[11]

On December 18, 2010, McCaskill voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[12][13]


McCaskill has denounced the use of earmarks and pork barrel spending, and with Russ Feingold she is one of only two Democratic senators that have sworn not to use earmarks.[14]

Disaster recovery

As a member of the Senate ad hoc subcommittee on disaster recovery, McCaskill supported Republican U.S. Representative Anh Joseph Cao and Democratic fellow U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in their insistence on corrections of mismanagement of the New Orleans office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).[15]

2008 Presidential campaign

McCaskill speaks during the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In January 2008, Claire McCaskill decided to endorse Senator Barack Obama in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidential elections of 2008, making her one of the first senators to do so. She has been one of the most visible faces for his campaign.[16] McCaskill's support was crucial to Obama's narrow victory in the Missouri primary in February, 2008. She has credited her daughter as the one who made her publicly endorse Obama.[17] She had been frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential choice of Senator Obama in the 2008 run for the White House, but was never seriously considered. She spoke on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention in August 2008.[18]

Health care reform

McCaskill supported health reform legislation; she voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[19] and she voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[20] She was critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which would have placed limits on private funding of abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.[21]

McCaskill regularly writes about her daily activities and opinions on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Her "tweets" often attract coverage by traditional press.[22] McCaskill is currently the second-most followed member of congress on Twitter.[23]

Airplane Property Tax Scandal

On March 16, 2011, McCaskill told reporters that she was "embarrassed" about revelations that her office had used taxpayer money for the senator's use of a private airplane she co-owned with her husband and friends. According to a government audit, the plane was used for 90 flights taken between Washington D.C. and her home in suburban St. Louis, as well as to numerous sites around the state of Missouri. According to McCaskill's Senate office, all but 1 of the 90 flights in question were within Senate rules. As soon as the story broke, Senator McCaskill sent a check for $88,000 to the U.S. Treasury as reimbursement for the flights.[24] The Missouri Republican Party filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee on March 16. In response McCaskill said, “The Missouri Republican Party is going to try to ride this horse as long as they can. They’re going to try to make this as big a deal as they can. Them filing the ethics complaint is about as surprising as the sun coming up.” [25] On March 21, 2011 Politico reported that McCaskill had failed to pay more than $280,000 in property taxes on the plane and was planning to sell it. “I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane,” McCaskill said on a conference call with reporters. “I will never set foot on the plane again.” The Senate Ethics Committee has yet to comment on the matter.

The plane, a 2001 Pilatus PC-12, is stored at Spirit of St. Louis Airport, McCaskill confirmed. It is owned by Timesaver LLC, a Delaware-based corporation. McCaskill noted that she had paid $38,800 in sales taxes on the plane, and she only recently became aware that Missouri also imposed a property tax on private aircraft. She said she was “disappointed” in herself for not ensuring that Timesaver LLC paid the property taxes.

“Frankly, having the plane owned in Delaware would not negate the necessity of paying the personal property tax in Missouri” she said. “This is a mistake. It should have been reported in Missouri. It was owed in Missouri. It will be paid in Missouri today.”


Senator McCaskill also served as the Chairwoman of the Select Committee for the Impeachment of Samuel B. Kent, which was disbanded July 22, 2009, after Judge Kent resigned.[27]


  • McCaskill is the first elected woman to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate. Jean Carnahan was appointed to the Senate following her husband's death and posthumous election, but was defeated in a close election by Jim Talent.
  • McCaskill has been selected by the DNC to lead a commission alongside Jim Clyburn that will investigate the rules and structure of the 2012 primary season.[28]

Electoral history

Missouri United States Senate election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Claire McCaskill 1,055,255 49.6
Republican Jim Talent (Incumbent) 1,006,941 47.3 -2.5
Missouri Governor election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Matt Blunt 1,382,419 50.8%
Democratic Claire McCaskill 1,301,442 47.9% -2.9
Libertarian John M. Swenson 24,378 .9% -49.9
Constitution Robert Wells 11,299 .4% -50.4
Nonpartisan Kenneth J. Johnson 61 0% -50.8
Missouri Governor Democratic Primary, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Claire McCaskill 437,780 51.6%
Democratic Bob Holden (incumbent) 383,734 45.3% -6.3
Democratic Jim LePage 16,761 2.0% -49.6
Democratic Jeffery A. Emrick 9,473 1.1% -50.5
Missouri State Auditor election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Claire McCaskill (incumbent) 1,090,593 60.0%
Republican Al Hanson 664,982 36.6% -23.4
Libertarian Arnold J. Trembley 39,891 2.2% -57.8
Green Fred Kennell 23,521 1.3% -58.7
American Independent Theo (Ted) Brown, Sr. 54 .0% -60%
Missouri State Auditor election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Claire McCaskill 780,178 50.3%
Republican Charles (Chuck) A. Pierce 719,653 46.4% -3.9%
Libertarian Gerald R. Geier 26,955 1.7% -48.6
Reform George D. Weber 24,188 1.6% -48.7
Missouri State Auditor Democratic Primary, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Claire McCaskill 151,595 51.0%
Democratic Stephen J. Conway 114,997 38.7% -12.3
Democratic Timothy Marshall Walters 30,888 10.4% -40.6

Personal life

McCaskill was married to David Exposito, with whom she had three children. The couple divorced in 1995, while McCaskill was Jackson County Prosecutor. Exposito was found murdered in Kansas City, Kansas on December 12, 2005[29]

On the October 3, 2009 episode of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, McCaskill spoke about a vacation early in her career as a lawyer, where she was a contestant on High Rollers. McCaskill would reign as champion for four days, and later sold several of her prizes to pay off her student loan debt.[30]

In April 2002, McCaskill married St. Louis businessman Joseph Shepard. Shepard loaned $1.6 million to McCaskill's 2004 gubernatorial campaign and also had business interests in the nursing home industry. Because as state auditor McCaskill was responsible for auditing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates the state's nursing home system, Shepard's financial interests in the industry became an issue during the 2004 gubernatorial campaign.[31]

In May 2007, an invitation for McCaskill to speak at the graduation of her daughter Maddie Esposito at Catholic St. Joseph's Academy in St. Louis was withdrawn after the school president was contacted by a call from diocesan officials because of her position strongly supporting abortion and embryonic stem cell research.[32]


  1. ^ "Statewide Races". Missouri Secretary of State. 
  2. ^ "Sen. Kit Bond of Mo. announces retirement". United Press International. 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Notable Thetas". Kappa Alpha Theta. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  5. ^ "McCaskill still silent on future elections" in the Columbia Missourian, July 18, 2005
  6. ^ "McCaskill To Face Blunt In Governor Race",, August 3, 2004
  7. ^ "Urban returns help challenger", Kansas City Star, November 8, 2006
  8. ^
  9. ^ Senator Claire McCaskill : Missouri
  10. ^ Senator Claire McCaskill : Missouri
  11. ^ Brodsky, Robert, "Report of Defense audit scandal makes waves",, July 28, 2008.
  12. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  13. ^ "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Members Who Have Sworn Off Earmarks
  15. ^ Bruce Alpert & Jonathan Tilove, FEMA outrage shared, Times-Picayune, 2009 March 1, Metro Edition, p. A13.
  16. ^ "McCaskill moving up the DC charts: Has backing Obama made her a star?"
  17. ^ "The Year of the Youth Vote - TIME"
  18. ^ "McCaskill scores opening-day DNC appearance - St. Louis Business Journal". 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  19. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  21. ^ McCaskill Opposes Adding Stupak Amendment To Senate Bill
  22. ^ "Prime Buzz". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  23. ^ "List". TweetCongress. Retrieved 2010-08-29. [dead link]
  24. ^ "McCaskill Speaks About Ethics Complaint Against Her « CBS St. Louis". 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  25. ^ "Claire McCaskill to pay back taxes on plane - Scott Wong and John Bresnahan". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  26. ^ "Senate Leaders Announce Bipartisan Committee To Investigate Judge G. Thomas Porteous" (Press release). Senate Democratic Caucus. 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  27. ^ Congressional Record S6961, June 24, 2009
  28. ^ "Ben Smith's Blog: A primary commission". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  29. ^ "McCaskill's Ex-Husband Slain In KCK",, December 13, 2005
  30. ^ Sen. Claire McCaskill Plays "Not My Job", NPR, October 3, 2009
  31. ^ "McCaskill: Husband will stop seeking state aid for businesses",, October 27, 2004
  32. ^ "Pro-Abortion senator prohibited from speaking at Catholic high school graduation". Catholic News Agency. May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Margaret B. Kelly
Missouri State Auditor
Succeeded by
Susan Montee
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Talent
United States Senator (Class 1) from Missouri
January 4, 2007 – present
Served alongside: Christopher "Kit" Bond, Roy Blunt
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Holden
Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Jay Nixon
Preceded by
Jean Carnahan
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Missouri (Class 1)
Succeeded by
Most recent
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Bob Corker
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Amy Klobuchar

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