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Pro-McCaskill ad blitz comes amid new round of GOP focus on tax payments

In Backroom

10:59 pm on Sun, 05.20.12

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., finally appears to be receiving substantial independent campaign-ad spending on her behalf.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent an email to allies on Sunday saying it had “just reserved $14.1 million of air time in the key battlegrounds of Missouri, Virginia and Montana.”

The DSCC didn’t provide a breakdown of how much was being spent in each state, but the spending is likely the biggest independent chunk that has gone to help McCaskill.  Republican-leaning SuperPACS already have spent close to $5 million on ads attacking her.

The DSCC has reserved close to $5 million in TV ad time on McCaskill's behalf, according to Politico. The ad time is slated for the fall.

The DSCC's other Democratic beneficiaries are Sens. John Tester in Montana and Tim Kaine in Virginia. The three U.S. Senate contests, including Missouri, are expected to be the most hotly contested in the country this fall.

“This is just the next step in our efforts to defend Democrats against attacks from the likes of Karl Rove and billionaire-backed SuperPACs,” the DSCC said. “There is a lot of work ahead, but this is promising news.”

Claire McCaskill
Claire McCaskill

The news of the DSCC financial help comes at an opportune time for McCaskill, who once again has to deal with embarrassing news about late property taxes. In this case, it’s property taxes on her Washington D.C. condominium which, according to the Kansas City Star, were paid three weeks late last fall.

However, the latest records show that she has overpaid her condominium taxes by about $1,600, a campaign spokeswoman said Sunday night -- which could help mitigate the episode as a tax issue.

The Star reported that McCaskill “paid $197 in penalties and interest on top of the $1,514 in taxes owed for half the year.”

The late payment was her third over three years, the newspaper said, citing late payments with similar fines ($198 in 2010).

McCaskill replied that the problem was that Washington, D.C. sends out tax bills twice a year. She told the Star, “Somehow the second bill that came to my condo in D.C. slipped through the cracks, and it got paid late.”

For McCaskill, it’s the publicity – not the fines – that could prove costly. The total amount of fines and interest totalled only about $600 for all three late payments.

But the tax topic resurrects the problems the senator ran into a year ago when she disclosed that her family had to pay more than $300,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties – going back several years -- for a plane they co-owned and housed near Spirit of St. Louis Airport.

The family has since sold the plane.

The senator said at the time that the family had not known until recently that St. Louis County levied personal property taxes on aircraft.  A county probe turned up other private-plane owners in arrears.

But it’s likely that only McCaskill, among those late payers, will see the misstep airing in TV attack ads as she seeks re-election later this year.

All three of her major Republican rivals -- former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, and St. Louis businessman John Brunner -- also have dealt with some embarrassments, but so far none of their troubles has involved back taxes.

But her colleague, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., ran into a property tax issue three years ago when it turned out he and his wife owed $7,000 because Washington, D.C. had given them a tax break for which they did not qualify. The error in that case was the fault of the city, not the Blunts.

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