What a difference a Senate seat makes, eh? Before Claire McCaskill won Missouri’s Senate race in 2006, her husband Joseph Shepard made a modest amount of money in real-estate ventures relating to federally subsidized housing. In the twelve years of his wife’s tenure in the upper chamber, Shepard’s investments have won federal contracts worth nine figures. The Kansas City Star and McClatchy report that Shepard’s annual personal income from those investments runs as high as one million dollars:
Businesses tied to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband have been awarded more than $131 million in federal subsidies since the Missouri Democrat took office in 2007, an analysis by The Kansas City Star found.
Joseph Shepard’s personal income from his investments in those businesses has grown exponentially during his wife’s two terms in the Senate. …
In 2006, the year before McCaskill entered the Senate, her husband’s personal income from those investments was between $1,608 and $16,731, according to the senator’s financial disclosure forms.
In 2017, five years into McCaskill’s second term, Shepard personally earned between $365,374 and $1,118,158 from investments in housing projects that received federal subsidies, the disclosure forms show. Disclosure forms only provide ranges of income.
Well, someone has to pay for that private plane, right?
McCaskill’s office claims this is all just a coincidence. Her campaign spokeswoman says McCaskill has nothing to do with her husband’s investments, and McClatchy does point out that she doesn’t sit on the relevant committees. Her voting record is mixed on issues that impacts Shepard’s investments, and Shepard has had investments in affordable housing for decades, long before their marriage in 2002.
The spokesman for Shephard’s investment firm claims he’s been pulling back from this sector during their marriage:
As of 2017, Shepard had become a limited partner in most of the 164 housing projects he was involved in, serving only as an investor, according to Wyche.
“Joseph Shepard’s work with federal affordable housing projects has decreased almost 40 percent since he met Claire in 2001, years before she was elected to the United States Senate,” Wyche said in a statement. “He is now a limited partner in the vast majority of these investments, meaning that he has absolutely no say in how the projects are run and any money that he receives is limited by law.”
All of these are points well taken, but … it sure seems convenient that the projects in which a Senator’s husband invests just happened to get $131 million in federal grants after her election. It sure seems coincidental that his income from those projects rose from the low five figures the year before she took office to a level at least twenty times that level. Even the decline in his interests in these sectors looks odd; how is it that Shepard had 40% fewer properties but got so much more income out of them? And why frame that decline from 2001 rather than 2006? Has Shepard’s work since 2006 declined, or was the decline in the five years before she took office?
It’s not the first time the subject has come up, either. Todd Akin tried to raise it in 2o12 before he imploded, when the figure was just $40 million. In the six years since, that’s grown by over 200%. That must be a “coincidence,” too. Unfortunately for McCaskill, she’s not running against Todd Akin this time, and Josh Hawley may be able to make this stick.
Correction: Joseph Shepard’s name was misspelled several times in the original version of this post.