Government & Politics

Hawley wants McCaskill to release full tax returns, dodges on if Trump should, too

Possible presidential contender stumps for McCaskill

Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, joined Sen. Claire McCaskill at a campaign event Saturday in Kansas City.
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Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, joined Sen. Claire McCaskill at a campaign event Saturday in Kansas City.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley on Wednesday demanded that Sen. Claire McCaskill disclose her full tax returns — as well as her husband’s — to clear up questions about the couple’s wealth, while at the same time refusing to directly answer whether President Donald Trump should do the same.

Hawley released his and his wife’s 2017 tax returns on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters, while saying McCaskill and her husband, Joseph Shepard, should do the same so that voters know how she became one of the wealthiest members of the U.S. Senate.

McCaskill later Wednesday released her 2017 federal tax return. The two candidates made the information public a day after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article about how neither one had so far.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill talked about President Donald Trump’s trade policies during an August visit to Kansas City. On the same day, the Missouri Farm Bureau endorsed her opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Reporters pressed Hawley repeatedly on why McCaskill should release her tax returns while Trump, who has enthusiastically endorsed Hawley, has steadfastly avoided disclosing his. Hawley would not directly address the questions.

“He ran, he won, the people of this state voted for him by 20 points, now Senator McCaskill is running and there are serious questions about how she has profited from her seat in the U.S. Senate, how she’s gotten to be one of the richest members of the Senate,” Hawley said. “So what anybody else has done is immaterial.”

Hawley and McCaskill are locked in a close and hard-fought race in what will be a key election to determine control of the U.S. Senate after the midterm elections. A recent NBC-Marist poll indicates the race is a dead heat.

McCaskill and her husband file their tax returns separately. McCaskill’s campaign provided The Star with her full 2017 tax return Wednesday afternoon. It showed that she made $266,096 in 2017, the bulk of it coming from her $174,000 Senate salary and $85,521 from pensions and annuities. Shepard, a businessman, accounts for much of the couple’s net worth.

Hawley’s returns show that he and his wife made $323,620 in 2017, mostly from earnings, business income and capital gains.

“There’s been a lot of dark money that has been poured into this state by Chuck Schumer and others and my question is, why is a United States senator running her family’s finances like a dark money operation?” Hawley said. “It’s a very troubling pattern.”

McCaskill’s campaign said Hawley was being a hypocrite.

“Only the most hypocritical politician would refuse to criticize the President for not releasing his tax returns and then complain about Claire’s husband,” said Eric Mee, press secretary for McCaskill’s campaign, in a written statement. “Claire has filed separately from her husband since they met and will not be releasing his return. Her family’s finances are fully and properly disclosed on her 61-page personal financial disclosure.”

Hawley stopped Thursday in Blue Springs on his "Let's Debate" tour.

Trump, while campaigning for the 2016 election, broke with a decades-long custom of major party presidential candidates disclosing their tax returns, citing an Internal Revenue Service audit that he said was ongoing at the time. Trump later declined to release the documents when the audit was completed.

Hawley raised questions about $131 million in federal tax subsidies that companies tied to McCaskill’s husband, Joseph Shepard, have received since she took office in the Senate in 2007.

The $131 million that Hawley referenced went to government-subsidized housing projects that Shepard was invested in. An analysis by The Star and McClatchy D.C. earlier this year found no evidence that McCaskill used her influence to direct subsidies to her husband’s companies.

Hawley also raised questions about Shepard’s investments in a hedge fund with ties to the Cayman Islands.

“Now the president is not running for election in the state of Missouri in this campaign, he has not had the questions raised that Senator McCaskill has about her finances,” Hawley said.

Trump has been hammered on questions about his finances, ranging from the extent of his business debt to his business dealings overseas to payments to a porn star and a Playboy centerfold, allegedly to buy their silence about possible affairs with both women ahead of the 2016 general election.

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