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SENATE

McCaskill sells plane to blunt criticism

Sen. Claire McCaskill, has sold a private plane she co-owns with her husband, months after her use of it for official business and failure to pay back taxes created a political headache.

In April, the Missouri Democrat said she would sell the aircraft after a series of damaging revelations. First, she repaid the government $88,000 after she was criticized for reimbursing herself for use of the plane for official and political travel. Then she paid an initial $287,000, rising to $320,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest to St. Louis County.

Claire said she would sell the plane and she did,” said Trevor Kincaid, a McCaskill spokesman. “True to her word as always.”

Mr. Kincaid said the plane sold for approximately $1.9 million to Northeast Montana Stat Air Ambulance Cooperative, which was a loss.

Mrs. McCaskill, seeking re-election in 2012, faces a tough race in a state she narrowly won in 2006. Republicans have pounded Mrs. McCaskill about the plane, dubbing it “Air Claire” and seeking to damage her reputation as a champion of good government.

Three Republicans are vying to take her on: Rep. W. Todd Akin, St. Louis-area businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

With no staff, Bachmann mails her filing for primary

CONCORD — In keeping with the scant attention she has paid to New Hampshire, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has signed up by mail to get on the state’s presidential primary ballot instead of showing up in person or having someone else do it for her.

Though Mrs. Bachmann could have traveled to New Hampshire herself, sending a staffer wasn’t an option after all five of her paid New Hampshire staffers quit last week, complaining that they were kept out of the loop and treated rudely by her national campaign team.

Most of the major candidates have filed in person, although Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Georgia businessman Herman Cain sent campaign workers instead. Mrs. Bachmann, who has visited New Hampshire twice since launching her campaign, has been focused almost exclusively on Iowa.

IOWA

Perry promises millions of jobs in first TV ad

DES MOINES — Rick Perry promises to create at least 2.5 million new jobs in his campaign’s first television advertisement as he seeks to refocus his struggling GOP presidential bid on his economic successes as Texas governor.

Mr. Perry was using the 30-second spot beginning Wednesday in Iowa to reintroduce himself as a serious threat to national GOP poll leader Mitt Romney, who is making the economy the centerpiece of his second bid for the GOP nomination.

In the ad, Mr. Perry notes Texas’ robust job growth during his 10 years as governor, and promises to open domestic energy production and eliminate regulations that he contends have hurt the energy sector under President Obama.

Mr. Perry reinforced his national campaign with seasoned presidential campaign aides this week and outlined an economic plan that includes a flat income tax.

HOUSE

Massachusetts Rep. Olver announces retirement

Democratic Rep. John W. Olver of Massachusetts will retire at the end of his term.

The 75-year-old congressman announced Wednesday that he will step down from his western Massachusetts seat because of family circumstances. His wife is ill with cancer.

Mr. Olver’s decision comes as Massachusetts officials wrestle with a redistricting process that will reduce the state’s congressional seats from 10 to nine.

Mr. Olver, who has held his seat since 1991, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He is a former college professor.

MICHIGAN

Former lawmaker Wolpe dies at 71

DETROIT — Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Howard Wolpe, who helped pass the federal anti-apartheid act in 1986, has died. He was 71.

Former staffer Ken Brock says the seven-term congressman had recently been ill with a heart condition. Mr. Wolpe died Tuesday at his home in Saugatuck.

He served in Congress from 1979 to 1992. As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, he authored and managed legislation imposing sanctions on South Africa for its system of white-minority rule.

Mr. Wolpe later served as special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region under President Bill Clinton. Democratic Rep. John D. Dingell said Mr. Wolpe initiated peace talks and helped end civil wars in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mr. Wolpe also unsuccessfully sought the governor’s office in Michigan.

He is survived by his wife and son.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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