Claire McCaskill

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she learned a lot from her unsuccessful run for governor in 2004.
Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

The president and his administration are maintaining regular contact with Missouri officials ahead of an announcement by the grand jury investigating the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told reporters this week that she spoke with President Barack Obama on Tuesday for what she described as a “full and complete discussion about a lot of issues surrounding Ferguson.”  She added that “I’m in contact with the Department of Justice every few days, encouraging them to continue their independent and complete investigation.”

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she learned a lot from her unsuccessful run for governor in 2004.
Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says President Obama’s strategy on Iraq seems to be working and should be allowed more time to succeed. McCaskill, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, was a guest Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

When asked whether the U.S. should think about sending American troops into Iraq, the Missouri Democrat said she thinks air strikes have been effective in slowing ISIS down, and that she supports forming partnerships with moderate Sunnis.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she learned a lot from her unsuccessful run for governor in 2004.
Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., joined a handful of other centrists-Democrats in voting against Nevada Sen. Harry Reid to be the caucus’ minority leader for the 114th Congress beginning in January. McCaskill said she made her decision in the wake of last week's election, which she said showed that Missouri voters want change.

Missouri Republican Party Chairman Ed Martin, left, lost elections for Congress and for attorney general. While those experiences can be instructive, he says losing sometimes "just plain stinks."
Courtesy of Ed Martin's Facebook page

When Ed Martin sent out an e-mail last week with the phrase “You’re A Loser” in the subject line, this writer thought the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party was being unneighborly.

In actuality, Martin – who, for full disclosure, lives in the same St. Louis neighborhood as I do – penned a  letter on how it feels to lose an election. Even though his party experienced a very successful mid-term election cycle, Martin wrote that not every Republican candidate is basking in the glow of victory -- and they probably aren't feeling that great right now.

Senate Democrats return to Washington Wednesday morning knowing that their time in the majority will expire in just a few weeks. 

The lame duck session starts Wednesday and ends before Christmas, with a Thanksgiving holiday in between. The new Congress, with its Senate Republican majority of 52 seats, starts shortly after the New Year. The House remains firmly in Republican hands.

Brigadier General James Robinson, left, pins a medal to Leo Hardin's suit coat as Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) looks on.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

A Korean War veteran from St. Louis received a Purple Heart and three other service awards Friday, six decades late.

Twice wounded during the war, Leo Hardin should have received a Purple Heart with a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantry Badge, the National Defense Medal and the United Nations Service Medal when he left Korea in 1953. Hardin, a veteran of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, served in Japan in the late 1940s as well as in Korea as Private First Class from 1950-1953.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Actions often speak louder than words.

The region’s two major candidates for St. Louis County executive – Democrat Steve Stenger and Republican Rick Stream – play down any talk that their campaigns target women voters.

Both say they’re seeking support from any and all voters, regardless of gender, age, race or other demographics.

Michael Brown's parents, Michael Brown, Sr. (far left) and Lesley McSpadden (center) at a rally in August 2014.
Jason Rosenbaum |St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Brown's parents are renewing their call for a special prosecutor in the investigation into the fatal police shooting of their son citing "compelling and rising concerns of conflict."

In a letter written by their attorney, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., asked Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday to reconsider replacing St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch. Nixon declined to remove McCulloch when he had the power to do so during the state of emergency imposed during August's unrest.

Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

As far as sexual assaults on a college campus are concerned, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill says no news is definitely not good news.

McCaskill, D-Mo., came to Harris-Stowe State University Monday as part of her continuing efforts to strengthen colleges’ responses to sexual assault – responses that she says too often are half-hearted or, at their worst, harmful to the victim.

Events in Ferguson are drawing the attention of lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t think the issues that have been raised by the incidents in Ferguson and the continuing unrest are going away anytime soon, and those issues really don’t start with Ferguson,” said Jim Howard, St. Louis Public Radio’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

After the unrest in Ferguson, and the media images of highly equipped police, the “militarization” of police departments became a hot-button public policy issue.

After traveling the state on Monday, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said law enforcement officials have told him there’s misinformation about the type of equipment used in Ferguson.

General Motors

General Motors says it will add a third shift and about 750 new jobs at its Wentzville Assembly plant in early 2015.

The new shift will help build two new midsize pickup truck models, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. It will also produce the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans, which GM describes as solid sellers.

"It's our belief that this is a long-term add for the plant and a very bright future for all the people working here," said plant manager Nancy Laubenthal.

Thousands of early orders

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill dismissed on Monday rumors that she may be interested in a 2016 run for governor – 12 years after she lost her first bid for that job.

When asked if she was considering another run for governor, McCaskill replied, “I actually am not. I am very busy in my job” as U.S. senator.

“I am very happy in the job I have, and I am very lucky to have it,’’ she said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

More than one-third of the military equipment deemed surplus and made available in the Defense Department’s so-called 1033 program was either new or unused according to information provided Tuesday to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Representatives from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice faced sometimes pointed questions about waste, weak oversight and almost nonexistent coordination among the programs their departments administer to help local police departments gain access to military equipment.

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

Armed with a "laundry list of questions," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will lead the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday in a hearing to examine the militarization of local police departments. The hearing follows public outrage over what some saw as an excessive police response to protests in Ferguson following the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer.

Three different federal departments have programs to help local police departments acquire military-type hardware, including armored vehicles, and tactical gear and weapons.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been roughly 45 years since Patrick Howe served in Vietnam. And he’s been waiting that long to receive his Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained in battle.

With the help of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office, Howe received his long-delayed medal on Monday at St. Peters City Hall. He called the moment “an extreme honor.”

“I’m just extremely honored and overwhelmed with what’s happening because Vietnam vets didn’t get the recognition when they came home,” Howe said. “So today, it’s just a big honor.”

police line ferguson 81814
Ray Jones | UPI

Law-enforcement response to the unrest in Ferguson is generating a congressional hearing into “militarized’’ police, and a call for a bipartisan state committee to review the state response.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s planning a September hearing of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, which she chairs, “to examine federal programs that enable local police departments to acquire military equipment.”

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

(Updated at 4:20 p.m., Thurs., Aug. 14)

As of Thursday, the Missouri Highway Patrol is now in charge in Ferguson. And Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who announced the change, said at a news conference that the public should see a difference at once.

The St. Louis County police have been widely criticized for their aggressive, even militaristic stance -- using armored vehicles and tear gas -- to quell protests stemming from last Saturday's police shooting. 

Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

A bipartisan group of senators -- including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. -- and several victims of sexual violence presented at a press conference on Wednesday their arguments for legislation they say is long overdue and necessary to push colleges and universities into doing more to protect students and rid their campuses of sexual predators.

“This bill represents a rare thing in Washington — a truly collaborative, bipartisan effort—and that bodes well for our shared fight to turn the tide against sexual violence on our campuses,” McCaskill said.

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics.  This week the trio discusses the last-minute money surge to the state’s primary candidates, as well as key races in St. Louis. 

The Politically Speaking crew also talked about U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s big donation to the state Democratic Party and what it means for state legislative contests in the fall.

On the show:

Jim Howard/St. Louis Public Radio

Imagine two schoolboys scrambling to their feet after tussling in the dirt, both trying to convince a teacher that their fight wasn’t all that bad, and each vouching for the other that they really do get along just fine. That image may give you an idea of how hard-fought negotiations over a compromise bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, turned into the kind of jovial news conference conducted Monday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

(Updated 11:30 a.m., Mon., July 28)

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has underscored her influence within the Missouri Democratic Party by writing a check for $240,000 – making her the new top donor for the party.

And wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield has donated another hefty sum to one of his favorite officeholders, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.

But Sinquefield gave even more Monday to a Republican rival for Dooley's job, state Rep. Rick Stream.

File photo

For U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, more sanctions against Russia aren’t enough to demonstrate the United States’ fury over Thursday’s crash of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine.

The plane is believed to have been hit by a Russian-made missile fired by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

Durbin and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., both believe that the bulk of the blame lies with “Putin’s effort to destabilize the Ukraine,’’ as Durbin put it.

via the Missouri Courts website

Updated Thursday, July 17 to include a statement from Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka).

Seventeen years after his first nomination, former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White has been approved for a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of Missouri.

The U.S. Senate voted 53-44 to confirm his appointment Wednesday.

It was a long journey that began in 1997 when President Bill Clinton nominated White for a seat on the Eastern District Court of Missouri. At the time he was the first African-American judge on the Missouri Supreme Court.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

(Updated 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 15)

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, is continuing this week to make the rounds of the national news outlets as he promotes his new book, “Firing Back.”

But most Republicans, nationally and in Missouri, are continuing to ignore his book – and him.

In the book, Akin generally defends his controversial 2012 contention that in cases of “legitimate rape,’’ women rarely get pregnant because “their bodies have ways of shutting the whole thing down.”

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says a staff survey of 440 colleges and universities regarding campus sexual assaults has found that 41 percent of those responding “have not conducted a single investigation in five years” despite allegations by possible victims.

That finding is disturbing, McCaskill told reporters Wednesday because it means those colleges "are saying there are zero instances of sexual assault, which is hard to believe."

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., received a lot of attention last week for her pointed questioning of TV celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz during a hearing on weight-loss scams. She spoke with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh today about that hearing, and her concerns about obesity in America.

“I think it is irresponsible for a doctor of medicine who understands science-based research to tout anything as a miracle pill for weight loss,” said McCaskill, explaining that she thought Dr. Oz “sometimes blurs the line between entertainer and doctor.”

Missouri Supreme Court

Updated 12:22 p.m., Thurs., June 19: On June 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Ronnie White's nomination to the U.S. Senate floor. The committee's 10-7 affirmative vote makes it highly likely that White's nomination to the federal bench will be approved.

Here's the original story about White's nomination from April:

(Courtesy of Sen. Claire McCaskill)

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Tuesday chaired a hearing on Capitol Hill to discuss what she called a “crisis in consumer protection”: weight-loss diet scams.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of television’s “Dr. Oz Show”, was the hearing’s star witness. Other witnesses included Mary Koelbel Engle, associate director of the Division of Advertising Practices for the Federal Trade Commission, and Steven Mister, president and CEP of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

During the hearing McCaskill scolded Oz for claims that he’s made about weight-loss aids on his show.

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says the Iraqi government bears most of the blame for the violence now engulfing the country and is urging caution as the U.S. government decides how to respond.

“The mess that is in Iraq right now is Iraq’s doing,” McCaskill said in a conference call Tuesday with Missouri journalists. “The U.S. put them on a path of free and fair elections, and to have a military that could enforce the rule of law...I’m sick to my stomach that what we have done in that country has been so carelessly and casually abandoned in favor of sectarian dominance.”

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