Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is dealing with another controversy over her use of a private plane - this time when she's already competing in a tight race for re-election in a state Donald Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016.
Her campaign team is pushing back at a conservative outlet’s report that McCaskill used a private plane during parts of an RV tour while on the campaign trail.
But adding fuel to the fire, President Trump mocked the senator on Twitter Wednesday before propping up her GOP opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.
"Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony! Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement," Trump tweeted.
Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony! Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
In a statement released by her campaign following the president's tweet, McCaskill made it clear she is not saying sorry.
“Paying on my own dime to visit more Missouri veterans is not something I’m going to apologize for," the senator said.
The Washington Free Beacon tracked the movements of McCaskill’s private plane, which is owned by her husband’s business, and reported that the route closely aligned with some of her campaign stops throughout the state of Missouri while she was promoting veterans’ issues late last month.
“The Washington Free Beacon story is riddled with inaccuracies," McCaskill’s campaign spokeswoman Meira Bernstein said in a statement to ABC News. "Claire spent two days traveling the state on the RV and only flew to where she stayed overnight and to allow for an additional stop that otherwise would not have been possible."
This is also not the first time the senator has faced criticism for the use of a private plane. In 2011, McCaskill acknowledged reimbursing the Treasury Department after failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of property taxes on another private plane, which she eventually sold.
The ordeal inspired the nickname, "Air Claire," which dogged the senator during her re-election campaign in 2012.
And Hawley, her current opponent, was quick to point out the senator's penchant for private planes, slamming her in a series of tweets, saying "It must be good to be rich and liberal."
I thought you sold the “damn plane.” How about this: why don’t you give up using your luxury jet for the next 147 days? Just 147 days. You can do it. Come live like the rest of us. I dare you #MOSen https://t.co/IvjlSx6VxN— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) June 12, 2018
While McCaskill herself admitted to reporters on Capitol Hill that she did use her husband’s company plane for parts of the tour last month, she called the Free Beacon report "not accurate."
"The plane picked me up at the end of one day after I spent all day on the RV and it took me to my overnight location," McCaskill told reporters Tuesday. "And the next day we used the plane to add a stop. But I was on the RV totally – two of the three days I was out."
She added: "Anybody could have followed me...they could have seen me when I got off the RV and when I got on the airplane...there was no effort to hide anything.”
An aide emphasized that no campaign funds or taxpayer dollars went towards the use of the plane, and McCaskill personally paid for all travel on the plane, the aide told ABC News.