Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill might have sold her $2 million private plane, but she's still trying to convince voters that it was no big deal that she used to jet back and forth from D.C. on her very own twin-engine turbo-prop. "Normal people" do it all the time.
McCaskill, who is up for re-election in 2018, has been trying to connect with the "little people" in her state, hosting a series of town halls where she insists she's just a blue collar Missouri girl at heart, trying to represent the needs of her constituents in Congress.
Over the weekend, though, McCaskill, unsolicited, asked a constituent concerned about the rising cost of air travel, "will you remind of that when they come after me about my husband's private plane? That normal people can afford it."
If you're looking to save on air travel, there are much easier ways than owning a private plane, which costs more than just the sticker price, when you factor in storage, maintenance, fuel, and associated fees. But, it seems, according to McCaskill, the high cost of serving Missourians in Washington and at home absolutely required her to purchase an eight passenger Pilatus PC-12/45.
McCaskill has been touchy about the plane for years. Back in 2011, she was actually forced to sell the aircraft when the IRS discovered she'd failed to pay around $250,000 in back property taxes on the plane, and Politico discovered that she'd been charging taxpayers for those very fuel, maintenance, and pilot fees for when she flew around her home state, to the tune of nearly $80,000.
She eventually cut a check to the treasury to cover the cost of her flights, but only after her constituents had already shelled out the money.
But even without the private plane, McCaskill is far from a "normal" person, particularly for Missouri where the median income for a family of four hovers around $50,000. Even among her peers in Congress, McCaskill isn't normal; she's the 12th richest member of the Senate, with a net worth "between $15.6 million and $27.5 million." She and her husband own two houses, her $700,000 condo in D.C. and a "sprawling three-story, 15-room home" back in Missouri.
Lately, though, aware that President Donald Trump rode a wave of populist sentiment into the White House, McCaskill has been trying to rehabilitate her image — she even returned a donation from Rosie O'Donnell because she was worried about the optics — and it sounds like she'd prefer Missouri forgets exactly how not "normal" she really is.