Slums, drugs, and spousal abuse
The sordid tale of Claire McCaskill and the man she credits with "establishing her values"
By Jeff Emanuel Posted in Democrats | Featured Stories — Comments (61) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
STATE AUDITOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-Missouri) has cast herself as a champion of “strong, small town values” in her 2006 challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent. A mere twenty-three days before the election, in a race which could decide control of the Senate, McCaskill has nearly succeeded in hiding the fact that her history, as well as that of her known associates, reveals just the opposite.
In April of 2002, her fourth year as State Auditor, McCaskill married St. Louis businessman Joseph Shepard who, like her, was a veteran of an extremely troubled previous marriage.
At a campaign event this September, which was attended by President Clinton, McCaskill introduced her second husband as one of the “people that make my life work, the people that establish my values on this planet, the people that I love more even than this state I live in.” (video below)
One can only assume that Claire McCaskill knows about her husband’s history of gross domestic violence and spousal abuse – and one can only wonder what part of her “values” that established.
The domestic violence in Shepard’s past is both shocking and repulsive in detail. On February 15, 1998, police were called to then-Mrs. Shepard’s house (the couple had been separated since June of the previous year) by a girlfriend. According to the police report (.pdf file), Mrs. Shepard said of her husband:
Joseph entered my home. I told him to leave. He came up to me looking angry. I put my hands up to protect my breasts as they are sore (cancer). He has hit me before in the breast. He grabbed my wrist and arm and pushed me up against the wall & I hit my head & back & he bruised my arms by pinching me.
As distasteful and appalling as that is, it’s nothing compared to what Mrs. Shepard told police, and the Saint Louis Family Court, that she had endured from her husband in the past. Once again, from the police report:
He has tripped me, hit me before (police were called by my daughter), punched my cancer breast, peed on me, pushed me down and slapped me. He now threatens that everything I have is his and I will end up in his low-income housing and he wants to take my things.
This is absolutely appalling, to say the least; the only good that can be said is that Mrs. Shepard was finally able to escape her marriage to the man now responsible for Claire McCaskill’s “values.”
The couple had four adopted children, a fact made possible by Shepard’s serving on the board of the adoption service-providing Children's Home Society of Missouri – and these unfortunate innocents also had to live through Shepard’s unspeakable husband-on-wife abuse.
SHEPARD’S UNPRINCIPLED PAST DOES NOT STOP with simple spousal assault. A millionaire businessman who is a director, board member or officer in 18 corporations, he has personally financed McCaskill's political career, including providing $1.6 million in the primary phase of her 2004 run for Governor (in which she ousted the Democrat incumbent). According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Shepard’s business history reveals a man who has made his fortune off of taxpayer dollars, by “aggressively [seeking] public subsidies” and reaping spectacular financial reward from rural, low-income housing.
Over 30 years, Shepard became a a slumlord, amassing “a housing empire that, at one point, included nearly 10,000 apartments in 23 states.”
Why low-income housing? Because it is lucrative for extremely wealthy investors, like Shepard, who seek to shield their money from taxation through write offs – and in low-income housing, investors can “write off more money than a project produces, thus claiming a net loss for tax purposes.”
As a result, Shepard's interest in 175 companies is valued at less than $1,000, and he has a stake in 192 companies which supposedly generate less than $201 in annual income.
As State Auditor, McCaskill claims that she has complied with disclosure laws; however, it would be very difficult for an ordinary person to amass a net worth totaling between $13 million and more than $30 million, the couple’s wealth according to a statement she filed with the Senate, on just $201 per month.
There is also the issue of nursing homes – an industry which McCaskill promised to clean up when running for Auditor in 1998. The Missouri State Auditor is responsible for auditing the Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates the state's nursing home system; Shepard, as luck would have it, happened to own six such businesses. A wife, in charge of auditing an industry in which her husband is a prominent business owner? Sounds like a conflict of interest – unless you’re Claire McCaskill, that is.
When the subject was broached during her 2004 gubernatorial campaign, McCaskill brushed off the idea of conflict of interest by saying that her husband was out of the nursing home business. However, records show he still received $3 million in rent from nursing home companies that year.
Not only that, several of the nursing homes Shepard had operated were repeatedly cited for deficiencies by inspectors or sued with allegations of poor care, sexual abuse or wrongful death at the time of his management. Still no conflict of interest with his wife handling the audit.
Rather, McCaskill maintains that her audit of the industry did not overlap with any period of time when her husband operated nursing homes. Unfortunately, beyond the world of semantics, that’s just not true, as Joseph Shepard still owns the buildings that contain the nursing homes. No word on what McCaskill’s next Houdini-like attempt to escape the facts of this matter will include.
The conflict of interest in McCaskill’s personal and professional dealings with Shepard’s businesses has the potential only to increase should she be elected to the Senate. As the USDA handles low income housing issues, a Senator McCaskill would be in a position to help her husband's slums even more.
WHETHER OR NOT CLAIRE MCCASKILL KNEW all of the grisly details about her current husband’s sordid and repugnant past when she married him, she is clearly displaying a trend of extremely poor – at best – judgment regarding whom she chooses to associate with, and in what capacity.
Her first marriage, to the late David Exposito, lasted until 1995 – one year after he was arrested on a Kansas City-area gambling boat for possession of marijuana. Both the arrest and the divorce occurred while McCaskill was serving as Jackson County, MO Prosecutor – a fact which opened up McCaskill to some long-deserved, but luckily-avoided, suspicion regarding possible drug use of her own.
This suspicion was piqued when a woman named Ruth Carter, who was working in McCaskill’s Independence, MO office, came under suspicion by the Drug Task Force for possibly “making and selling drugs.” On March 25, 1994, “officers raided [Carter’s] Independence home, where they found Meth in her bedroom and remnants of a lab in the basement,” according to the Kansas City Star.
According to a special report by Kansas City’s KCTV 5 News (video below), “drug investigators began looking into McCaskill just after Carter's arrest, …a detective in Eastern Jackson County asked for FBI help on Claire McCaskill in 1995,… and federal authorities spent 4 years in the mid to late 1990s investigating whether she used illegal drugs." U.S. Attorney Stephen Hill even “took the extraordinary step in late 1997 of authorizing a 'Pen Trap' on McCaskill's home phone to collect the phone numbers of those calling or being called.”
When pressed on this, as well as on her knowledge of the investigations into Ruth Carter and personal friend Anna Wiggins, McCaskill repeatedly gave contradictory answers – especially regarding Wiggins, the investigation of whom McCaskill has claimed to have had no knowledge, in spite of police officers alleging that McCaskill instructed them not to investigate Wiggins, nor to bring her in for questioning.
In response to questions from the Kansas City Star (6/29/04) about the discrepancies between her statements and those of police, McCaskill blamed it all on the cops, saying that she “got along with most police officers,” but that “there are some cowboys, and there were some people that resented the fact that I was the woman in charge and that I had the kind of power I had.”
McCaskill was never prosecuted for drug-related crimes, but that chapter of the story still did not have a happy ending, as, in 2005, her ex-husband Exposito was shot to death in front of a Kansas City day care, the victim of a murder which media reports have linked to drugs.
Connecting the dots over Claire McCaskill’s past is not a difficult task. While a prosecutor, her husband at the time, friend, and employee were arrested for drugs, and she was investigated. While the State Auditor, McCaskill’s husband at this time was heavily invested in spuriously run businesses which fell under her supervision.
With this kind of track record, who will Claire McCaskill choose to consort with next, should she become a Senator – and how will her increasingly poor decisions affect the rest of us, should she ascend to a position of even greater power, influence, and scope?
At a time when the mantra “culture of corruption” is on the lips of every Democrat this side of the Potomac, what will the historically corrupt – both morally and professionally – Claire McCaskill fall into, and with whom will she associate, should the voters of Missouri be so blinded by her “values” act that they actually send her to Washington?
In the vein of the vast feminist support for President Clinton in the face of his publicly known outrageous treatment of women, Liberals from groups like the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and the National Association of Social Workers, to individuals like Clinton himself, have lined up to endorse Claire McCaskill for Senate – proving, for Democrats, that a person’s professional dealings, associations, and personal life can be almost limitlessly corrupt, so long as their politics are “correct.”
Her website says "In the tradition of Harry Truman, Claire McCaskill means it when she says: 'The Buck Stops Here’.” Well, the buck does stop here. How is a woman who says that her husband, a man with such a prolific personal history of violence towards women and such a professional history as a slumlord, is responsible for “establish[ing her] values on this planet,” going to stand up for real values in Washington – and what can we expect from her when she reaches an office from which she can legislate the values she learned from Joseph Shepard?