Senator bails out of PC-12 share

 - May 1, 2011, 6:05 AM

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), who is likely to face a tough re-election race next year, is selling the share of a Pilatus PC-12 she and her husband own following disclosure that they owed more than $287,000 in property taxes on the single-engine turboprop. She has since paid the taxes.

“I have convinced my husband to sell the damn airplane,” said McCaskill, a former state auditor. Vowing to fly coach as often as possible or use charter flights as infrequently as possible, she said her husband has hired a broker to dispose of the Pilatus.

According to the Kansas City Star, McCaskill also repaid the federal government $88,000 to avoid the perception that she was making a profit off the airplane. But after further investigation, she discovered that she had not paid property taxes on the PC-12, which was hangared in St. Louis County. That resulted in her writing a check to the county, this one for about $287,273, to cover four years of personal property taxes, interest and penalties.

According to the Star, McCaskill apologized for that oversight, as well as for erroneously billing taxpayers for two political trips, which did not qualify as official business. “Big mistakes,” she admitted. “I’ll never set foot in [the airplane] again.”

FAA records show the Pilatus as registered to Timesaver, a corporation with an address in Wilmington, Del. It was manufactured in 2000 and the registration certificate was issued to Timesaver in April 2007.

Missouri Republicans seized on the airplane flap because four years ago McCaskill ran on a platform of transparency and fighting government waste. Two Republicans have already announced they want to run against her in November 2012.