Todd Akin, Claire McCaskill trade more punches in Senate race

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s campaign on Wednesday demanded that opponent Sen. Claire McCaskill release her and husband Joe Shepard’s tax returns for the years since her election in 2006.

In a conference call with reporters, Akin spokesman Rick Tyler said the Republican would release his own tax returns only if his Democratic opponent in the Missouri U.S. Senate race and Shepard release theirs first.

In a statement, McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki criticized the tax return request.

“Todd Akin’s repeated attacks against Claire’s family are a desperate, baseless attempt to distract from his extreme record,” she said.

McCaskill’s income became an issue following reports this week by The Associated Press that Shepard-owned businesses have received millions in federal subsidies, some of which came from bills the senator supported. McCaskill has claimed that revenue from those payments did not mean significant income to her, and some of those votes involved bigger issues.

But in a news release, Akin said release of the tax returns would help prove or disprove her claim.

“If she claims that she didn’t benefit from it, she needs to prove it,” Akin said in the release.

Akin’s spokesman acknowledged, however, that concerns about McCaskill’s potential conflicts of interest are based in part on “speculation.”

McCaskill released her latest federal income tax return this year following a request from The Star’s Washington bureau. It showed an adjusted gross income of $193,384. McCaskill’s campaign said she also released her return in response to similar requests in 2004 and 2006, years she ran for office. Those returns were not immediately available.

Shepard’s tax return, which is filed separately, was not released. But Shepard’s holdings are included in McCaskill’s annual personal financial disclosure statement, which provides a range of income earned from those holdings as well as a range of values.

The Akin tax return demand came the same day McCaskill began airing three tough new ads directly criticizing Akin’s stand on emergency birth control for victims of rape and incest. In August, the GOP nominee said the female body can avoid pregnancy after “legitimate” rape, a statement he has since retracted.

In the ads McCaskill released Wednesday, three women — all who say they were victims of sexual assault — said they opposed Akin because of his controversial remarks.

“In the hospital I was offered emergency contraception,” says one of the women, Diana, who claimed she’s an anti-abortion Republican. “Because of my personal beliefs, I declined. Here’s what else I believe: no woman should be denied that choice.”