The Kansas City Star reported on Tuesday that the husband of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has ties to companies that have received a total of $131 million in government subsidies during the senator's time in federal office.
What's the deal?
McCaskill's husband, Joseph Shepard, spent decades in the business of managing and developing projects that utilize federal subsidies —mostly from Housing and Urban Development or in the form of rural rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — for "affordable housing" projects. He continues to invest in companies involved such projects, and receives profits distributed by the firms.
In McCaskill's 2012 Senate race, The Associated Press conducted a similar analysis of Shepard's subsidy-linked investments. At that time, the businesses he was involved with had received an accumulated $39 million in federal dollars since his wife joined the Senate in 2007.
But a representative from Sugar Creek, Shepard's company, insists the businessman has scaled back his direct involvement with his development investments over the years.
In a statement, Tony Wyche said, "Joseph Shepard's work with federal affordable housing projects has decreased almost 40 percent since he met Claire in 2001, years before she was elected to the United States Senate.
"He is now a limited partner in the vast majority of these investments, meaning that he has absolutely no say in how the projects are run and any money that he receives is limited by law."
Of the 164 housing projects Shepard is currently a party to, he assumed the role of limited partner in most of them last year, Wyche told The Star.
Is McCaskill steering federal dollars?
While The Associated Press and The Kansas City Star reported on the continued growth of the McCaskill-Shepard family's wealth — both also stated in their analyses that there is no evidence showing that the senator has steered any federal dollars directly to companies affiliated with her husband.
Responding to The Star's report, McCaskill's people dismissed the issue while taking aim at the supporters of Republican front-runner Josh Hawley, who is seeking to unseat her in November.
In an email to Fox News, campaign spokeswoman Meira Bernstein said: "Claire's work in the Senate has absolutely nothing to do with her husband's business investments. It is outrageous that Hawley's backers are trying to distort and demonize Joseph Shepard's business success while they celebrate Donald Trump's business record and wealth. It is the definition of hypocrisy."
The millions in federal subsidies received by the companies affiliated with Shepard adds to a stack of reasons McCaskill's opponents say her wealth shows she's out of touch with Missouri voters.