The hypocrisy of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) smells pretty rank; the same woman who acted zealous about promoting oversight and transparency for congressional travel, even introducing a reform bill restricting overseas travel for lawmakers, used a company that operated her family's private plane and asked the FAA to make the plane untrackable by the public, as documents from the Federal Aviation Administration reveal.
In 2011, McCaskill was found to have spent almost $76,000 in public funds since 2007 to use a charter plane she co-owned with her husband and other investors. Her spokeswoman, Maria Speiser, stated, “She has only paid for the use of her plane as required by the Senate rules, and there has been no profit to her or her family. She’s glad there’s transparency – that’s why people can see this information.”
McCaskill later sold her private plane for nearly $2 million after admitting she failed to pay more than $300,000 in state property taxes over four years. Then she and her husband bought a newer, more expensive plane in December 2013.
Despite her spokeswoman’s claims in 2011 that McCaskill was “glad there’s transparency,” The Washington Free Beacon reports, "The campaign payments were made to Aero Charter, a company based out of a small two-runway airport located near McCaskill's home in the St. Louis suburbs that offers an aircraft management service for private plane owners. The Beacon added that according to email records, “Aero Charter's vice president for operations wrote the April email to the FAA requesting that flight data be blocked for McCaskill's plane.”
McCaskill’s current spokeswoman, Meira Bernstein, pointed out that Aero Charter made the request, not McCaskill. She stated, "The plane is regularly chartered out to other users, and my understanding is that AeroCharter made this decision to protect the privacy and security of users. Claire has been completely transparent about her use of the plane and no taxpayer or campaign dollars are ever used for the plane."
The Beacon explains:
Prior to 2013, private aircraft owners or operators had to present a "certified security concern" to the FAA if they wanted to block their aircraft data from public display on websites such as FlightAware.com, where McCaskill's plane could be tracked as recently as this year. However, changes made during the Obama administration removed this requirement and "make the aircraft blocking process as simple as possible."
In 2017, as the Beacon reported, McCaskill spent roughly $21,000 to use her private plane on the campaign trail in just three months.
McCaskill had been slammed for saying at a town hall that "normal people can afford" to travel by private plane. She had been prompted by a pilot asking her whether she was in favor of privatizing air traffic control. She later tried to walk her answer back, remarking it was "of course not" a normal thing.