A daughter of rural Missouri, with deep roots in the Show Me State
1953 - 1978
The year that Missouri's Harry Truman left the Presidency, Claire McCaskill's parents, Bill and Betty Anne traveled to Rolla, Missouri for the birth of their daughter. At the time, there was no hospital in their hometown of Houston, Missouri.
Bill worked at the McCaskill Feed Mill. He was a veteran of World War II, a modest man whose family would only find out years after his death that he'd been awarded a Bronze Star for his service. Not long after Claire was born, the family moved to Lebanon, Missouri, where Betty Anne's family ran the corner drug store. Another move shortly thereafter landed Claire in Columbia, Missouri, where she attended Hickman High School.
Claire's parents encouraged participation in politics from an early age. Bill served as Missouri State Insurance Commissioner, and Betty Anne became the first woman to win a seat on the Columbia City Council. Betty Anne, Claire later recalled, was as likely to call and yell at the Governor as she was to scold the mayor. At Halloween time, she taught Claire and her siblings to say "trick or treat and vote for JFK!" Betty Anne would become a fixture in Missouri Democratic politics, eventually running for a seat in the State Legislature against LeRoy Blunt, the father of Claire's eventual friend and colleague, Republican Senator Roy Blunt.
“Integrity, independence, and guts - that's what Claire McCaskill is made of.”- Claire's mom, Betty Anne McCaskill
A product of Missouri's public schools, Claire began waiting tables in the Lake of the Ozarks the day after graduating high school - a job she would hold for six years in order to help pay her way through college and law school at the University of Missouri - Columbia.
From prosecutor to legislator
1978 - 1999
After law school, Claire started work as an assistant prosecutor in Kansas City. She eventually served as a felony courtroom prosecutor specializing in sex crimes and arson cases.
In 1982, Claire won a seat in the Missouri State Legislature, where she chaired the General Assembly's Civil and Criminal Justice Committee, helping shape the state's criminal justice system to better protect Missouri's families and improve safety in their communities.
Claire would also become the first woman Missouri State Legislator to have a baby while in office, leading her to juggle the responsibilities of lawmaker and mother.
Claire made history in 1992 when she became the first woman to be elected Jackson County Prosecutor. As head of the largest prosecutor's office in the state, in a region that includes Kansas City, Claire broke new ground in combatting violent crime. She launched one of the nation's first drug courts, and established a domestic violence unit - a first-of-its-kind initiative for the region, aimed at curbing domestic and sex violence, as well as child abuse.
Claire won reelection and served as Jackson County Prosecutor until 1999, when she was sworn in as Missouri State Auditor.
Advocate for accountability
1999 - 2006
As the state's top government watchdog, Claire revolutionized the office of State Auditor - expanding her work beyond traditional financial audits, to include "performance audits," to root out fraud and abuse of power in state agencies and organizations.
“...a tough, no-nonsense moderate whose views best reflect the independent reputation of her home state.” - The Springfield News-Leader
Claire's dogged pursuit of accountability included audits of the state's Social Services Foster Care Program and child support enforcement, Child Abuse Hotline, child care facilities inspections and licensing, as well as domestic violence shelters and puppy mills.
She also conducted reviews of the effectiveness of Missouri's Sunshine Law, education funding, and the rise in student loan and college tuition rates in the state.
In 2004, Claire took on her own party establishment and became the only person in Missouri history to defeat a sitting Governor in a primary election.
An independent voice for Missouri
2006 - present
In 2006, Claire became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri, winning the seat once held by Harry Truman.
Making good on a campaign pledge, Claire waged a successful six-year effort to rein in wasteful wartime contracting practices in Iraq and Afghanistan - modeled on Harry Truman's famous battle against war profiteering. During the final hours of Claire's first Senate term, her signature legislation implementing historic wartime contracting reforms was signed into law.
Claire's efforts led to the creation of a new Senate panel charged with financial and contracting oversight. As Chairman, Claire led nearly 40 hearings, and launched an even greater number of investigations at dozens of federal departments and agencies, resulting in more than 30 instances of misconduct referred to federal investigators.
Claire drew on her personal commitment to America's military veterans, helping to pass the 21st Century GI Bill, and establishing a veterans' "secret shopper" program to improve health care services for Missouri's veterans. Following reports of neglect, Claire successfully pushed for the removal of Army officials managing Walter Reed Army Medical Center - and shortly after, led the successful effort to reform management of Arlington National Cemetery after disclosures of mismarked gravesites. Later, she passed into law a comprehensive plan fixing the Pentagon’s troubled program to recover American personnel who are prisoners of war and missing in action (POW/MIA).
Claire teamed up with her Republican colleagues to establish a ban on Congressional earmarks, and has helped lead efforts to repeal automatic pay raises for Congress. She bucked her party's leadership, authoring a bill to impose a cap on federal discretionary spending - legislation which came within one vote of Senate passage.
And when dozens of small towns across rural Missouri were threatened with post office closures, Claire waged a successful battle to protect those post offices - which Claire called "the lifeblood of rural Missouri."
Following Claire's resounding reelection in 2012, her oversight panel was expanded and tasked with protecting taxpayer dollars and investigating waste, fraud, and abuse at every federal agency. A recognized tech leader - with a penchant for communicating directly with constituents via Twitter - Claire also served as Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. In her second term, Claire launched investigations into areas including fraudulent robocalls, financial management at the U.S. Energy Department, inaccuracies on credit reports, security clearance background checks, pervasive fraud and waste in an Army National Guard recruiting program, and sexual violence on college and university campuses.
And as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, Claire drew upon her years as a courtroom prosecutor in leading the successful effort to reform how the military justice system handles sexual assaults in our Armed Forces - successfully enacting sweeping changes to protect and empower survivors and hold perpetrators and commanders accountable.
As Missouri's Senator, Claire has earned a reputation as a plain-spoken, independent voice for Missouri's families and businesses - willing to buck her own party to do what's right, and fighting to expand opportunities for Missouri's kids and grandkids.
Claire returns home to Missouri nearly every weekend, where she loves spending time with her eight grandchildren. She and her husband Joseph have a blended family of seven children, all but two of whom live in St. Louis.
Claire's Committee Assignments
- Armed Services Committee
- Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
- Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee
- Top-ranking Democrat, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (formerly the “Truman Committee”)
- Special Committee on Aging
- Top-ranking Democrat