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Blunt, McCaskill take different approaches when it comes to controversial campaign donations

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Senator Blunt | Flickr
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Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Despite Democratic pressure, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt says he has no plans to return $11,000 in campaign donations that he received years ago from former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.  

Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, now faces charges that he lied to federal investigators about money he paid to an alleged victim of sexual abuse when Hastert was a high-school wrestling coach.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., took a different approach this spring when she dealt with old donations from embattled Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who's now under federal indictment for corruption charges.

Blunt, R-Mo., was close to Hastert during Blunt’s years in the U.S. House. Most of Hastert’s contributions ($10,000) were given to Blunt in 2010, during his first successful bid for the U.S. Senate.

National Democratic groups who are targeting Blunt’s likely re-election bid in 2016, have been blasting Blunt over the Hastert donations and have called on him to get rid of the money.

But Blunt told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that he saw no reason to give back the money that he received from Hastert.

“Returning donations gives some sense that you are going to look at the behavior of everybody who gives money to a campaign,” Blunt said. “I don't know if I have time to do that and I would expect not to be returning donations to anybody."

McCaskill told reporters in a later conference call that she wasn’t commenting on Blunt’s decision.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill at a hearing at Washington University with more than a dozen experts in medicine and geriatrics 3/31/15
Credit Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio
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Claire McCaskill

However, McCaskill noted that over the years she has given various donations to charity to represent money that she has received from people accused of felonies.

In April, for example, McCaskill donated $11,000 in April to two Missouri domestic and sexual- violence prevention/response centers. The money represented the donations she had received over the years from  Menendez.

In general, McCaskill added, she's dealt with such donations on "a case by case basis."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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