Mo. GOP files ethics complaint over McCaskill travel

Mar 16, 2011

Updated 12:16 p.m. March 16, 2011 with comments from McCaskill.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says she is embarrassed by the recent revelation that she was reimbursed for using a private airplane to attend a political event in 2007.

The democrat's comments come a day after the Missouri Republican Party filed an ethics complaint against her.

Last week, McCaskill repaid the U.S. Treasury $88,000 for 89 airplane trips she organized through a company in which she and her husband have an ownership stake. The trips were allowed by Senate rules, but McCaskill said she wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

McCaskill says the complaint filed by Republicans is more about politics than ethics.

"Missouri Republican Party is going to try to ride this horse for as long as they can," McCaskill said. "They're gonna try to make this as big a deal as they can. Them filing an ethics complaint is about as surprising as the sun coming up."

McCaskill says she's glad that such details about domestic travel are public record so members of Congress are held accountable. She says she is pushing for the same kind of transparency in foreign travel.

Original post: 1:34 p.m. March 15, 2011.

The Missouri Republican Party has filed a complaint with the U.S. Senate ethics committee over Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's use of a private airplane.

The complaint publicized today by Republicans comes after McCaskill repaid the U.S. Treasury $88,000 last week for 89 airplane trips she organized through a company in which she and her husband have an ownership stake.

Senate rules allow lawmakers to be reimbursed for travel, but McCaskill said she repaid the money to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. subsequently reported that one of those trips was for political purposes - when McCaskill traveled from St. Louis to Hannibal for a Democratic conference in March 2007.

But, Lloyd Smith, director of the Missouri Republican Party, says he would like the Ethics Committee to acknowledge that a violation did occur.

"She may get some benefit from having paid it back," Smith said. "But at the same time they need to say it was wrong, you did wrong and everyone needs to point that out. And I think it acts as a deterrent in the future."

McCaskill spokeswoman Maria Speiser said today the political trip was mistakenly billed to the government.

She said McCaskill was embarrassed by the incident.

Updated 4:50 p.m. March 15, 2011