Growing up in Missouri
Claire McCaskill has spent all of her life in Missouri.
When Claire was born her family lived in Houston, MO, but since there was no hospital in town, her parents traveled to nearby Rolla for her birth. Back in Houston, her father Bill worked with his father at the McCaskill & Sons feed mill. The family later moved to Lebanon, where her mother Betty Anne grew up, and where her mother's family operated a corner drug store.
The McCaskills moved again when Claire was 10, this time to Columbia, where she attended Hickman High School. She kept busy with many school activities, including cheerleading, theater productions, and speech and debate competitions. She also began working when she was 15 at a local fabric store and sewed many of her own clothes with the fabric she bought with her employee discount.
After graduating near the top of her class at Hickman, Claire stayed in Columbia, getting her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Missouri. She worked as a waitress to help put herself through college and law school.
State and Local Government
After graduation, Claire was off to Kansas City where she first worked as a research attorney for the Court of Appeals. She then became one of the few women prosecuting criminal cases as an assistant prosecutor in the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorneys Office. Claire spent four years in the court room, trying cases involving kidnapping, sexual assault, child abuse, and homicide. She specialized in arson prosecution, becoming one of the nation's experts in this difficult area.
She served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1983 to 1988, where she was a leader on criminal justice issues. She earned the Outstanding Legislator Award from the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in 1987. She was also the first woman to give birth while serving as a legislator when her son Austin was born in 1987.
In 1992, Claire broke another barrier by becoming the first woman elected Jackson County prosecutor. Her office was the largest prosecutor's office in the state, handling thousands of felony cases on an annual basis. During her term, she put more criminals behind bars than any other Missouri prosecutor, established a special Domestic Violence Unit to combat domestic violence and child abuse, created one of America’s first Drug Courts, and established new and effective ways to combat the serious problem of meth in the greater Kansas City area.
Claire's drive to improve government took a statewide focus when she was elected as the Missouri state auditor in 1999. She revolutionized the office by embracing performance audits, which for the first time did comprehensive evaluations of the effectiveness of various programs in state government.
In 2004, Claire took on her own party and ran for governor, becoming the first Missourian in history to defeat a sitting governor in a primary. She narrowly lost the general election in November 2004. She then took on an incumbent United States senator, winning a narrow victory in November of 2006.
Since becoming the first elected female senator from Missouri, she has combined her experiences as a prosecutor and auditor to become one of the best known senators for government reform and accountability.
Earning accolades from Republicans and Democrats alike, Claire has tackled issues of accountability and transparency, earmark reform, national security and consumer protection, among many others. She has the honor of having the same desk in the Senate chamber once occupied by then Senator Harry Truman.
Claire is married to Joseph Shepard, a St. Louis businessman, and each brought children to the marriage to create a blended family of seven children: Benjamin, Carl, Marilyn, Michael, Austin, Maddie, and Lily. Additionally, Claire and Joseph have welcomed five grandchildren to the family in recent years: Victoria, Brooke, Ian, Amir, and Evan.