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October 19, 2012

Claire McCaskill's Husband Got $40 Million in "Stimulus" Money for Housing Projects; Now Whistleblower Claims He Did Business Deals In Senate Dining Hall

First, what we already knew.

In order to not quote too much, I'm cutting most of the parts where Claire McCaskill denies everything. So, just to put it on the record: She denies all allegations.

Businesses affiliated with the husband of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill have received almost $40 million in federal subsidies for low-income housing developments during her first five years in office, but McCaskill's campaign said Tuesday that none of that money made it into the family's personal bank accounts.

...

The AP reviewed five years' worth of federal personal financial disclosure statements filed by McCaskill, which list more than 300 "affordable housing" businesses in which her husband, Joseph Shepard, had at least a partial ownership during the time she has been in office. At least one-third of those businesses also appear to be listed as recipients of federal payments in an online government database that tracks spending.

...

According to McCaskill's financial reports, Shepard earned an income of between about $400,000 and $2.6 million from those businesses in the years in which they received government payments.

..

McCaskill said "just a fraction of that income dealt with subsidized housing" and that her husband had only "a passive, minor investment role in" in many of the projects.

...

"She has to vote for or against appropriation bills - that's what the citizens of Missouri hire her to do," said George Connor, head of the political science department at Missouri State University. But he added: "It seems to me that she has influence over federal policy that has directly benefited her husband."

"There certainly is a legitimate perception of a conflict of interest, but that's not the same thing as saying there is one," Connor said.

...

McCaskill ranks as one of the wealthiest members in Congress, largely because of her husband's business success, which was already well-established when she married Shepard in 2002. Her political opponents have long sought to make an issue of their finances.

Now comes fresh allegations. Her husband's long-time CFO is a man named Craig Woods. Shephard and Woods had a falling out -- McCaskill calls him a "disgruntled former employee," which seems accurate enough -- and now Craig Woods is talking to Republican operatives. McCaskill says he's a felon; which seems true enough, but then again, he worked as her husband for 19 years.

She seems to be claiming neither she or her husband knew he was a felon, saying Woods lied about his past:

“Craig Woods is a twice-convicted felon and a disgruntled former employee who lied repeatedly to Claire’s husband about his criminal past of fraud and embezzlement,” McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said in an email to TheDC in response to the allegations.

I don't know if McCaskill is committing herself to the claim that her husband knew nothing of Woods' shady background, or just implying the hell out of it, without committing herself to that. From what is quoted, I do not see a firm statement that "My husband was never aware of Woods' background until recently, and when he did discover it, he terminated his association with Woods."

It seems like that's what's being implied without actually being said.

So personally I'd like some clarification on that-- is that what is being claimed? Whenever there's a scandal, we see people wanting to be taken as denying more than they actually are denying.

Let's be clear here: What exactly is being denied, exactly? Any knowledge of his background? Some knowledge?

Woods is now alleging:

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband used the U.S. Senate Dining Room to cut business deals selling tax credits tied to stimulus money, a whistle-blowing executive inside his company alleged on an audio recording exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.

“The thing that irritated me about this was he [McCaskill’s husband Joseph Shepard] entertained these outside investors in the Senate Dining Room,” the whistle-blower said. “That’s where he closed the deal.”

I'm not clear on how the credits were "sold;" if I understand the dealings (and I'm not sure I do; read the article yourself, and don't trust my guess here) Shephard took the credits he got for one subsidized-housing project (which, the whistleblower said, were enough to cover his full costs, so he didn't have to borrow "a dime") and packaged them with non-subsidized housing and sold the combined lot to Baltimore investors. In that way, I guess, the credits were "sold," though I'm not sure if there's anything shady about packaging them in that way.

However that part shakes out, though, there is still the matter of Claire McCaskill voting on "stimulus" items and various other housing-related subsidies that clearly wind up benefiting her husband -- and herself -- at some point in the chain of causality.

I assume, for example, that McCaskill's husband -- a very rich man -- is not building these houses pro bono like Jimmy Carter, and gets money for them. The very fact he's packaging subsidized housing (with federal tax credits) with non-subsidized housing to make the deal more advantageous tax-wise suggests this is not an altruistic endeavor.

So it seems he's profiting. Which is not a problem of itself... except for the small business of his wife voting for the federal tax credits he then scoops up and puts in his pocket.

Then there's the allegation that he's cutting these deals in the Senate Dining Hall. If true, that again is him trading on privileges granted to his wife for use for the citizens of Missouri generally for his own benefit. Access to the Senate -- demonstrated by a nice meal in its dining hall -- is nice selling point in a deal.

Especially if that deal is highly dependent on federal largesse. Kind of nice to remind your business partners that you've got a pretty nice inside track into federal subsidies and tax credits.

Now, McCaskill is denying these allegations. But there's something about her previous denials that sits wrong--

McCaskill said "just a fraction of that income dealt with subsidized housing" and that her husband had only "a passive, minor investment role in" in many of the projects.

Based on the allegations about packaging subsidized projects with non-subsidized ones and selling the project to investors, this does not sound "passive" or "minor." It sounds active and major -- at least in the bundling/getting a cut phase.



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posted by Ace at 11:31 AM

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