When commenter Bernecky first brought our attention in the Open Wire yesterday to the Politico report that Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill had billed the public for $76,000 in private plane travel, it seemed like an intriguing off-year Washington scandal was developing. Fox News certainly thought so. "Dem Senator Rocked By Scandal" screamed their headline.
Politico's Ben Smith suggested the flights are "likely to be an issue in McCaskill's re-election campaign next year...and they undercut her image as a transparent, crusading reformer." The news that McCaskill cut an $88,000 check to the Treasury department as reimbursement only deepened questions
But the attitude in Missouri is much different. Even McCaskill's opponents were disinclined to make hay out of the billings. “I think there are times where flying is absolutely necessary," Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, told the Springfield News-Leader during a conference call. "I haven’t done it yet...I really don’t understand the whole leasing arrangement at all. I haven’t had time to look at it at all. I was impressed that Senator McCaskill could write an $88,000 check. So that was my reaction to that.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch politics writer Jake Wagman seconded that notion. "The Center for Responsive Politics puts McCaskill's net worth between $15 million and $27 million," he noted. "With that type of cash, who wouldn't have their own airplane?"