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McCaskill Finances Examined

McCaskill Finances Examined

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The Kansas City Star

July 10, 2006 Monday

McCaskill finances examined;
Senate panel's scrutiny pleases GOP; Dems see 'character assassination.'

BYLINE: MATT STEARNS, The Star's Washington correspondent
The Kansas City Star

July 10, 2006 Monday

McCaskill finances examined;
Senate panel's scrutiny pleases GOP; Dems see 'character assassination.'

BYLINE: MATT STEARNS, The Star's Washington correspondent

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Published by: Darin Reboot Congress on Oct 10, 2012
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The Kansas City StarJuly 10, 2006 MondayMcCaskill finances examined;Senate panel's scrutiny pleases GOP; Dems see 'character assassination.'BYLINE: MATT STEARNS, The Star's Washington correspondentSECTION: B; Pg. 1LENGTH: 1070 wordsWASHINGTON | Claire McCaskill is having a hard time pleasing the Senate EthicsCommittee, and that's making Missouri Republicans mighty happy.McCaskill, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate who expects to face incumbentRepublican Jim Talent in November, has had to file two amendments to herpersonal financial disclosure report because the Ethics Committee said herinitial report was inadequate. McCaskillAt issue: The committee wants more precise information about the complexholdings of Joseph Shepard, McCaskill's wealthy husband, which include hundredsof seemingly worthless real estate partnerships and a Bermuda reinsurancecompany.McCaskill's campaign aides say that the two requests for more information fromthe Ethics Committee are not unusual and that the committee simply needsclarification.But in a tight, high-profile race, every misstep is magnified and any advantagecounts. Republicans hope to sow doubt in voters' minds."If you do not disclose what is required that does reflect negatively on yourcharacter," said Lloyd Smith, a senior strategist for Talent. "It is acharacter question and it is an honesty question."What Smith called a character question McCaskill aide Adrianne Marsh called"character assassination" of "a good woman from a rural area who stands forthings Missouri families care about.""They're grasping at straws here," Marsh said.McCaskill filed a report with the Senate in January that listed a net worth ofat least $13 million and possibly more than $30 million - most stemming fromShepard's extensive real estate interests."We've told everything we have to tell an incredible amount of detail,"McCaskill said in a radio interview last month.But McCaskill's campaign conceded Friday they have not yet been given theall-clear by the Ethics Committee.Talent has filed self-initiated amendments to his own personal financialstatements in the past because of reversed numbers on a form and to clarifycontributions by his wife to a 401(k) retirement plan.Earlier this year, Talent made a point of publicly releasing his family's tax
 
returns. His campaign spokesman criticized McCaskill for not doing the same(McCaskill released her tax return but would not release Shepard's).Shepard's wealth and its sources came up in the 2004 governor's race, withMcCaskill's foes both in the primary and in the general election trying to usehis business dealings against her.What's different now is that the Senate requires much more disclosure thanMissouri, giving Republicans far more information to comb - and the EthicsCommittee much to digest.McCaskill attorney Marc Elias said her disclosure was among the more complex hehas worked on.This is how McCaskill's filing describes Shepard's holdings: "There arenumerous instances where the spouse has an interest of nominal value in agovernment assisted housing project as the general partner of an investmentlimited partnership that is the limited partner of the limited partnership thatowns the project."Indeed, more than 150 of the 242 private partnerships and businesses inMcCaskill's January filing are reported to be worth less than $1,000; nearly200 of them produced less than $201 income, the lowest bracket for Senatedisclosure.In February, the Ethics Committee staffers asked for more information,specifically on the underlying assets of several investment funds worthmillions of dollars.Then in April, the committee demanded a list of the underlying assets of 58 ofShepard's partnerships and businesses.When the campaign complied in June, it also listed 40 additional partnershipsthat it did not identify in its first filing. But it did not provide the valuesof and income from the additional partnerships.Marsh said the additional partnerships either didn't meet the minimum valuethat require reporting or were entered into after the initial filing was madein January.Most of Shepard's assets are real estate partnerships dotted about the UnitedStates, but one holding the committee asked about stands out: The Rural HousingRe-Insurance Co. of America Ltd., based in Hamilton, Bermuda. McCaskillreported the company has a value of between $250,001 and $500,000, but producesless than $201 in income.Bermuda has strict secrecy laws, no tax on dividends or corporate income andfew disclosure requirements, making it a favored place for the wealthy to putmoney.Marsh wrote in an e-mail that Shepard owns less than 6 percent of the company,and that despite its high value, "the investment has never returned a dividendin the 20 years it has been in business.""That doesn't pass the smell test," scoffed Smith. "You can't have aninvestment of that magnitude without getting more than a couple of hundredbucks from it. That doesn't ring true with most voters."Such companies are a way to cut expenses because you're essentially insuringyour own holdings, said Mark Geoghegan, editor of Reinsurance magazine. They

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