There’s an interesting report from Politico about an apparent tiff between U.S. Reps. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis City, and U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis City.
As of now, Clay and Carnahan would be drawn into the same congressional district under two plans being considered by the General Assembly. Politico reports that Carnahan is unlikely to run against Clay in a Democratic primary, and instead could run in a neighboring district currently held by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country.
But according to the article, there’s been some palpable tension between the two lawmakers:
Two weeks ago, a frustrated Carnahan approached Clay on the House floor. Carnahan had been hoping to get Clay and fellow Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleave to pressure Gov. Jay Nixon to veto a Republican remapping of the state’s congressional districts. Not only had Clay and Cleaver declined to help, they had stopped taking Carnahan’s calls on the matter.
“[F—-] you,” Carnahan said, according to a source who heard the obscenity. Then, with sarcasm, he added “Thanks for your help.”
It’s easy to see why Clay and Cleaver aren’t rushing to fall on their swords for Carnahan. The maps under discussion would strengthen Cleaver in his Kansas City-based district, and the new district that would be drawn from the current seats of Clay and Carnahan, who is white, would have a heavily African-American electorate. All of that, of course, is dependent upon the Missouri Senate and House coming to agreement on a plan — a big “if,” given that the Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation converged on Jefferson City on Monday to try to help hash out a deal between the warring chambers.
Before Monday, Sen. Claire McCaskill was already immersed in a controversy over the use of a private plane for travel around the state.
Politico reported earlier this month that the first-term senator had billed taxpayers for $88,000 worth of travel on a private plane. McCaskill, D-Missouri, ultimately cut a check to the federal government.
But McCaskill’s situation may have gotten a whole lot worse Monday after she told a conference call of reporters that she had failed to pay nearly $300,000 worth of property taxes on the plane. It’s a transgression that McCaskill herself called “embarrassing,” adding that she convinced her husband to “to sell the damn plane.”
It’s no surprise that state and national Republicans jumped on the controversy. In fact, someone could argue if they hadn’t, GOPers would be seriously slacking in their reaction skills.
What may be more striking is the reaction from the state’s editorial writers. KC Star Editorial Writer Barb Shelly, for instance, said McCaskill’s failure to pay the taxes was “astounding.” She added the controversy is “one of the biggest crises McCaskill has faced in her long career.”
Shelly’s colleague at the Star – Yael Abouhalkah – wrote a post on the subject entitled “McCaskill’s credibility crashes and burns.” And St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial writer Tony Messenger Tweeted: “No doubt about it, [McCaskill’s] revelation that personal property taxes weren’t paid on plane hurts her politically. Much worse than flights.”
It remains to be seen what effect this has on McCaskill’s quest for re-election. After all, the Republican nominee is unknown at this point and external issues - such as the economy or foreign policy - could play a bigger role in who represents Missouri in the U.S. Senate. Also a big factor is how much money national Democrats invest in McCaskill’s re-election, as well as how hard President Barack Obama tries to win Missouri.
But the controversy could have longstanding consequences. The changing demographics of the state require Democrats with statewide aspirations to attract Independents and Republicans. One of McCaskill’s compelling arguments to these groups of voters was in her stances on fiscal issues, such as earmarks and government oversight.
After this revelation, Republicans may have salient ammunition to counter that argument.
There are new wrinkles to the controversy over Sen. Claire McCaskill’s use of a private plane for travel.
Politico reports that McCaskill failed to pay personal property taxes on a plane for the past four years. From the article:
She’s also planning on selling the plane, which she co-owns with her husband, after POLITICO revealed last week that she had used taxpayer dollars for a political trip around her home state of Missouri. McCaskill had spent $76,000 from her Senate budget on trips on the aircraft over the past four years.
McCaskill called a Monday press conference after POLITICO asked questions about whether she had paid her personal property taxes on the aircraft.
“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 senator told reporters that she had discovered the non-payment herself when she “put on my auditor’s hat” and probed all aspects of the plane’s finances as a result of the attacks, many made by Republicans, over her use of the family-owned plane for political and congressional flights.
"I take full responsibility for the mistake,” McCaskill said, adding that no personal property taxes had been paid the county because of an oversight as to the state and local laws regarding such taxes.
Additionally, Politico reporter Dave Catanese posted a Web video [above] from the National Republican Senatorial Committee lambasting McCaskill on the issue.
McCaskill is expected to face a tough challenge for re-election next year. Two Republicans - former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and attorney Ed Martin - have jumped into the GOP primary to run against McCaskill. Two others - U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, and former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagner - are mulling over bids.
Will a travel controversy harm Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election efforts? Reporters Dave Catanese and Scott Wong explore the fallout in an article published Friday in Politico:
Democrats are worried that the line of attack could stick, bruising the already vulnerable McCaskill who has made transparency a favorite campaign issue.
But they’re cautiously optimistic her reputation in Missouri as a straight-shooter will carry her through the flap, particularly because she quickly choked off the scandal by cutting the Treasury Department a check before the story broke in the press. She apologized. She made no excuses.
McCaskill has even made the unique argument that her own “embarrassing” mistake, as she’s called it, is just another reason to push for more openness in Washington.
“Claire has worked hard to fight for transparency and accountability in the Senate. It’s clearly working because even she is capable of making a mistake shown by the sunshine of transparency. Fortunately she was able to be accountable to Missourians and make it right,” said McCaskill spokeswoman Maria Speiser.
Last week’s massive earthquake in Japan sparked fears of a nuclear meltdown. And that may have a ripple effect on nuclear power in America.
Politico, for instance, is reporting that U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is calling for a moratorium on new nuclear reactors until a safety review is completed. More from the article:
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called Saturday for the NRC to impose a moratorium on building new nuclear reactors in seismically active areas until a sweeping new safety review is completed, and he demanded reviews of the Japanese plant’s design to determine if there were flaws that could repeat themselves elsewhere.
On Sunday, two senators who have leaned toward nuclear power offered wait-and-see assessments.
"I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy," Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) said on "Fox News Sunday."
And Sen. Chuck Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said that nuclear safety is paramount. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), though, called for a halt to permitting for new U.S. nuclear power plants until the scenarios that led to the serious reactor problems in Japan are determined.
You can also read Robert Koenig’s article in the St. Louis Beacon about how the Japanese crisis is affecting the nuclear power debate in America.
Politico reported yesterday that Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, spent thousands of dollars in public funds to fly in a chartered plane she co-owns with her husband.
From the article:
As a senator, McCaskill has flown at least 89 flights chartered by Sunset Cove Associates LLC — a company incorporated in 2002 by her husband, St. Louis businessman Joe Shepard, according to records kept by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office. All of those flights were paid for from McCaskill’s Senate office budget, raising questions about whether the first-term senator and her husband are using public dollars to partially subsidize their aircraft.
After POLITICO contacted McCaskill’s office Tuesday about this issue, a McCaskill aide said Wednesday that the senator — while stating that the all the flights were legal, in accordance with Senate ethics rules and actually cheaper than other travel options — will send a check worth more than $88,000 to the Treasury Department to cover all costs associated with the flights.
In a statement, McCaskill spokeswoman Maria Speiser insisted the senator had not violated any laws or Senate rules, and that neither she nor her family have personally profited from using the charter plane for official Senate business.
Dave Catanese over at Politico ranked what he feels are the top 10 governors races during the next election cycle.
The former KY3 reporter pegged the likely battle between Gov. Jay Nixon and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder as the number three race of the bunch. From the article:
Gov. Jay Nixon heads into his reelection battle as one of the most popular Democratic governors in the nation, but his team is aware he won’t face the same favorable environment that allowed him to win his first term by almost 19 percentage points.
Back then, Obama was at his peak of popularity — though he still lost the state — and GOP nominee Kenny Hulshof limped out of the divisive primary battered and bruised. Since then, the Show-Me State has trended even redder. Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has privately told consultants, donors and even college students he’s running — but his coy posture in public has left some GOP-ers wondering whether the quirky Kinder has the discipline needed to take down the relatively moderate Nixon.
Kinder has not officially announced his 2012 intentions, although he’s repeatedly said he is not running for re-election.