August 23, 2014

Sen. McCaskill: ‘Sell the damn plane’ (AUDIO)

Update: St. Louis County received four checks totaling $287,283.41 from Sunset Cove LLC, the airplane holding company owned by Senator McCaskill and her husband.

McCaskill told reporters March 21 that she expected there would also be late penalties and fees.

St. Louis County’s Department of Revenue reports that McCaskill’s total bill is $319,541, about $32,000 more than she has already paid. The county calculations includes four years of interest — $79,453 — and penalties of about $6,250. The county lists the plane’s worth at $2.1 million, with annual taxes between $62,000 and $53,000.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the final amount McCaskill owes is still unofficial, pending confirmation by the State Tax Commission.

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Senator McCaskill continues to uncover problems with her personal plane. She tells reporters that she has sent the State of Missouri more than $287,000 she owes for four years of personal property tax because the plane was hangared in St. Louis County.

She expressed remorse during the half-hour conference call today, saying the entire situation makes her sick to her stomach.

“I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane,” she says. “He has hired a broker, and I can tell you I will never set foot on the plane again.”

AUDIO: McCaskill’s conference call with reporters [25:41 min.] – Click to listen.

She says Missouri is among the minority of states that collects personal property tax on airplanes hangared here — and that that tax is payable to the county in which it’s hangared.

McCaskill says there was never a declaration made, never a bill sent, and never a bill paid. And she says that while there are others she could blame for the mis-step, as a Senator and an Auditor, she knows better and accepts full responsibility for the error.

She says she has re-examined all 89 flights she took on the plane from 2007 through 2011, just to be sure there were no other misrepresentations in using public funds for political trips.

“Of all 89 flights, other than flight to Hannibal, there were none with one slight exception,” she says. “There was one flight that involved eight stops for official business, and in the middle of it, I stopped by Truman Days in Kansas City and gave a speech. The following morning, I stopped by a fundraiser in Kansas City. It represented about 8 percent of that trip, and under the rules … that’s the minimus.”

However, she says it should have been caught and all the money has been paid back into public coffers.

Her campaign lawyers are still looking at all the flights to make sure none were reimbursed by the campaign, she says. She has also paid about $38,800 in sales tax.

Asked if this would hurt her bid for reelection, McCaskill says, “I don’t know, I’ve tried to handle this like I handle anything else,” with transparency and accountability in Congress.

McCaskill says the entire problem with the plane has made her “sick to her stomach.”

The GOP isn’t missing the opportunity to slam McCaskill for the financial slip. Missouri Republican Party Director Lloyd Smith says he thinks it was an attempt to avoid paying taxes, and that McCaskill and her husband list some 300 LLCs.

“It begs to question, did she know it? She certainly knew she had the plane, she flew on it,” he says. “It had to be based somewhere. She signed the documents. She had to know it was avoiding personal property taxes and that’s what’s going on.”

AUDIO: GOP statement from Lloyd Smith [Mp3, 2:37 min.] – click to listen.