A spokeswoman for Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election campaign told The Daily Caller that the senator and her husband first learned the criminal background of the man speaking out McCaskill’s husband’s business dealings from The New York Times.
McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki told TheDC on Friday that she thinks McCaskill and her husband Joseph Shepard discovered Craig Woods’ criminal background “[w]hen the New York Times told me in June that he’s a felon.”
TheDC reported Thursday that Woods, a former employee of Shepard’s, alleged in a 2011 audiotape that Shepard used the U.S. Senate dining room to cut business deals selling tax credits tied to the stimulus bill.
Woods was a longtime high-ranking official in Shepard’s business empire, serving first as chief financial officer and then as vice president and chief underwriter for Missouri Equity Investors LLC and JA Shepard Companies. He handled millions of dollars for the companies over the course of more than a decade.
If Legacki’s statement is accurate, that would mean the New York Times had some information about McCaskill’s husband’s allegedly nefarious business dealings – specifically relating to Woods’ allegations – in June, and for some reason decided not to run it. It would also mean the Times provided the McCaskill campaign with the key information it’s using to attack the allegations: Woods’ criminal record.
Woods pled guilty in the 1990s in two different cases of felony larceny and spent some time in prison after that – and that’s the point McCaskill and her campaign keep pointing to as the reason they say people shouldn’t believe Woods.
Spokespeople and editors for the Times, including DC editor Carl Hulse, haven’t returned TheDC’s multiple requests for comment on the matter.
Legacki has not answered more specific questions from TheDC about the McCaskill campaign’s interaction with the New York Times on this matter – including which reporters and editors were involved or whether the Times provided the McCaskill campaign with any other information.
Legacki also won’t say if she knows of any other media outlets that passed on the story.
When asked if she knows why the Times killed the story over the summer, Legacki simply responded on Sunday evening: “No reasons were given. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.”
McCaskill has accused those covering this story of being shills for her opponent, Rep. Todd Akin. For instance, the night it broke she described local St. Louis conservative radio host and blogger Dana Loesch as someone “who’s working really hard for my opponent” and labeled Loesch a “campaign operative.”
Legacki also originally accused Akin of being behind the article and its October timing – despite her statement that the Times was looking into this in June. “It is shocking that Todd Akin would pin the hopes of his campaign on a twice-convicted felon and a proven liar, but I guess Todd Akin is incredibly desperate at this point,” Legacki said on Thursday evening. “This is a despicable new low, especially for Todd Akin, and he should be ashamed of himself.”