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Missouri Dem Claire McCaskill Sells Controversial Private Plane

"[I'll] sell the damn plane..."

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has sold a private plane she co-owned with her husband, months after her use of it for official business and failure to pay back taxes created public backlash.

Remember the scandal?

The controversy over the airplane goes back to the beginning of the year, when McCaskill was accused of using congressional funds to pay for a trip on the airplane that had a political purpose, reports The Hill.

The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed the complaint (although reimbursement for official travel is allowed under Senate rules but not for political travel), but McCaskill announced she would reimburse the government about $300,000 for back taxes she did not pay on the plane.

As expected, Republican opposition has seized on what they perceive to be a major gaffe that underscores how "out of touch" she is with her constituents.

Since the story broke, Republicans have launched an "Air Claire" ad campaign and have argued that she has effectively undercut her own claim to be an "ethics leader."

In April, the Missouri Democrat said she would “sell the damn plane” after a series of damaging revelations. First she repaid the government $88,000 after she was criticized for reimbursing herself for use of the plane on official and political travel. Then she paid an initial $287,000, rising to $320,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest to St. Louis County.

“Claire said she would sell the plane and she did,” said Trevor Kincaid, a McCaskill spokesman. “True to her word as always.”

Kincaid said the plane sold for approximately $1.9 million to Northeast Montana Stat Air Ambulance Cooperative, which was a loss.

McCaskill, seeking re-election in 2012, faces a tight race in a state she only barely won in 2006. Even with the plane’s sale, Missouri Republicans and the eventual GOP Senate nominee are certain to highlight the issue as McCaskill runs for re-election.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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