Jun 13, 2018, 6:36 PM ET

McCaskill fighting back against private plane report amid tight re-election bid


Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is dealing with another controversy over her use of a private plane - this time when she's already competing in a tight race for re-election in a state Donald Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016.

Her campaign team is pushing back at a conservative outlet’s report that McCaskill used a private plane during parts of an RV tour while on the campaign trail.

But adding fuel to the fire, President Trump mocked the senator on Twitter Wednesday before propping up her GOP opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

"Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony! Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement," Trump tweeted.

In a statement released by her campaign following the president's tweet, McCaskill made it clear she is not saying sorry.

“Paying on my own dime to visit more Missouri veterans is not something I’m going to apologize for," the senator said.

The Washington Free Beacon tracked the movements of McCaskill’s private plane, which is owned by her husband’s business, and reported that the route closely aligned with some of her campaign stops throughout the state of Missouri while she was promoting veterans’ issues late last month.

“The Washington Free Beacon story is riddled with inaccuracies," McCaskill’s campaign spokeswoman Meira Bernstein said in a statement to ABC News. "Claire spent two days traveling the state on the RV and only flew to where she stayed overnight and to allow for an additional stop that otherwise would not have been possible."

This is also not the first time the senator has faced criticism for the use of a private plane. In 2011, McCaskill acknowledged reimbursing the Treasury Department after failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of property taxes on another private plane, which she eventually sold.

The ordeal inspired the nickname, "Air Claire," which dogged the senator during her re-election campaign in 2012.

And Hawley, her current opponent, was quick to point out the senator's penchant for private planes, slamming her in a series of tweets, saying "It must be good to be rich and liberal."

While McCaskill herself admitted to reporters on Capitol Hill that she did use her husband’s company plane for parts of the tour last month, she called the Free Beacon report "not accurate."

"The plane picked me up at the end of one day after I spent all day on the RV and it took me to my overnight location," McCaskill told reporters Tuesday. "And the next day we used the plane to add a stop. But I was on the RV totally – two of the three days I was out."

She added: "Anybody could have followed me...they could have seen me when I got off the RV and when I got on the airplane...there was no effort to hide anything.”

An aide emphasized that no campaign funds or taxpayer dollars went towards the use of the plane, and McCaskill personally paid for all travel on the plane, the aide told ABC News.

News - McCaskill fighting back against private plane report amid tight re-election bid

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  • SouthernCT

    Limousine Liberal

  • Going Strong

    This is s no-brainer. Either one is on an RV your, or is on a tour.

    The concept of an RV tour is to appear to be “plain folks, grass roots.” It’s fine, if it is an RV tour.

    To include the use of air travel is to deceive the public.

    The Senator should know better. Apparently, she and her handlers believed it to be worth the risk.

    Poor decision-making. May cost her re-election.

  • BD70

    Fire Pruitt and then we can talk about McCaskill.

  • subtext9

    As usual, Trump is tweeting from Fantasy Island. At least now he has a short in stature buddy (Kim) to shout out "the plane!" ("Twice," Trump corrected. "Very nice, Kim. But it only works if you say it twice.")

  • Gypsy613

    So, Claire, why try to hide tracking in your plane? I mean, if there is no reason to "hide" why are you hiding it?

  • bromeando

    Much to do about nothing

  • verygoodperson

    Most Trump's supporters are experiencing an irrational fear of people who are unlike themselves (Muslims, Mexicans, blacks, immigrants, etc.) as well as they are experiencing an irrational believe that Trump would help them to get rid of said unlike people (Trump is a self-serving man, he wouldn't help anyone). Both this thoughts are totally delusional! In the 1930s and 40s the same way delusional Germans supported Adolf Hitler! I sincerely recommend most Trump supporters to seek psychiatric help before it is too late for themselves and for the country!

  • Siestasis42

    So she used her own private plane to help her meet all the stops, big friggin deal. What else to you have?

  • AlexaGuyer

    Trump should be the last person to complain about someone's use of a luxurious private planed. Isn't that what Trump does every weekend when he flies Air Force One to Maralago to golf? The only difference is McCaskill pays out of her own pocket to fly private; Trump pays out of the taxpayer's pocket to fly private.

  • pksk531

    So Pruitt, Zinke, Mnuchin, et al can spend our money for their personal enjoyment, but she cannot spend her own money to make a campaign stop? Seriously?

  • John Michael Davis

    So, what they're saying is, she used a plane during parts of her RV tour and so no one should vote for her. Is that all they got?

  • Powderedtoastman

    She used her own money (unlike some of Chump's appointments).

  • Don'tBotherMe

    . . . People are really upset, so phony! . . .

    Wow, Trump knows what that feels like.

  • DuelingDogmas

    Don't worry Mrs. McCaskill, all of the Trump supporters will set aside their hypocrisy and ignorance to support you in doing the EXACT same thing that half of Trumps cabinet does regularly.

  • Captain Insanity

    She paid for it? If so, I don't see the problem. Just Trump being dumb.

  • snake

    The leader of the Trump Party has spoken to his cult about McCaskell and they will vote for her opponent but that was expected. In a state that elected a hypocritical governor who was impeached and resigned in disgrace any outcome is possible in November.

  • Jan515

    McCaskill thinks the good folks of her state are dumb enough to believe her about being on a RV tour, when she is a fat cat flying around on her rich husbands plane. The next time the good folks in her state look at the extra money they received in the historic tax cut by the GOP, to remember she voted against it. And by all accounts leader Pelosi wants to raise your taxes. Time to elect someone who cares about the hard working middle class folks instead of McCaskill.

  • LastSecondTakedown

    I still love when McCaskill was dogging the GOP for "Russian interference" - and said she has never met with a Russian. Then, a search through her Tweets unveiled that she had met with the exact same Russian ambassador as Sessions had, and she had done it not once, but twice. They were one-on-one meetings that she even tweeted about. It was quite comical watching her trying to talk her way out of that.

  • Prophet With Honor

    How DARE a member of the government pay for their own transportation!!!

  • MickC

    "Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a
    luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for
    her. People are really upset, so phony!"
    Trump's level of luxury puts McCaskill to shame. He's "so phony!"

  • Forward forward

    Backlash against Trump over Scott Pruitt TAXPAYER spending in three...two...one...

    What a dope.

  • Forward forward

    So how is poor old Donald doing in that 'dump' the taxpayers give him to live in? He is truly a man of the people, in touch with how we all live.

  • Alex

    So Donald is upset that Claire McCaskill is flying on a private plane, with her own money, but he doesn't have a problem with all the private jet flights his cabinet officials are taking with TAXPAYER money?

  • Jack25

    Boy did this one backfire on Trump. He has insured her re-election.

  • B-K KnightRider

    Of course the Idiot in Chief tried to turn this into a major scandal. He loves to turn grains of sand into Mount Everest.