On a bright morning in May 2016, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted a photo of a pink cocktail garnished with mint and a slice of melon. In the background, the Lake of the Ozarks shimmered in the sun.
“Watermelon mojito,” McCaskill tweeted. “Lake of the Ozarks. Family. Lucky.”
The lakefront vacation property in Missouri where McCaskill goes to escape the partisan chaos of Capitol Hill is owned by her husband, Joseph Shepard, and Rick DeStefane — a close family friend, a regular campaign donor and a nursing home executive with a track record of serious safety problems in an industry the senator has vowed to clean up.
The allegations against DeStefane range from health and safety lapses linked to gruesome deaths at his nursing homes to a federal investigation into Medicare fraud, an investigation by The Kansas City Star has found.
Meanwhile, DeStefane has entered into multiple financial relationships with McCaskill’s husband while sending checks to underwrite McCaskill’s political career.
McCaskill maintained close, personal ties to DeStefane as she built a reputation as a watchdog against elder abuse and fraud.
She made a name for herself as state auditor in Missouri by cracking down on the nursing home industry. After her election to the Senate in 2006,…