Joseph Shepard is the second and current husband of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic Missouri Senator who is in a tight race to retain her seat against challenger Josh Hawley, the state’s Attorney General.
McCaskill was married previously to David Exposito, who was later found murdered.
McCaskill’s current and second husband, a Michigan native who made millions as a developer, has been the subject of a great deal of news coverage during the campaign, mostly revolving around his business finances and an old domestic violence accusation that sparked a controversial advertisement.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Joseph Shephard’s Businesses Have Been Scrutinized Due to Federal Subsidies
The Kansas City Star broke the story that Shepard’s businesses received millions of dollars in federal subsidies. “Businesses tied to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband have been awarded more than $131 million in federal subsidies since the Missouri Democrat took office in 2007,” McClatchyDC reported.
Although the federal payments “don’t go directly into Shepard’s pocket,” his income has grown, according to the newspaper. In 2017, he was making between “$365,374 and $1,118,158” in investments, according to McClatchy.
The newspaper reported that Joseph Shepard has invested in affordable housing projects since the 1970s and that McCaskill says she didn’t have anything to do with her husband’s investments. Shepard’s company, Sugar Creek Capital, has been involved in other controversies.
According to Fox News, McCaskill’s husband invested in “pro-veteran properties that tried to evict homeless vets over $233 owed rent.”
In 2011, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Joseph Shepard’s holdings as “divided among dozens of limited partnerships, from Abilene, Kan., to Zephyrhills, Fla.” Controversy previously erupted over a $2.1 million plane McCaskill owned, the newspaper reported at that time.
2. McCaskill Has Said That She & Her Husband Are a ‘Team’
Claire McCaskill and Joseph Shepard have been married since 2002. “My husband and I are a team,” she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We are married, and we share everything — assets, children and a house. The money I’ve loaned to my campaign is my money. My family is supportive of my efforts. Some have implied that the assets of my family don’t belong to me. That notion is pretty archaic.”
They met at a birthday party.
Fox News reported that Joseph Shepard “also invested $1 million in a hedge fund in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven his wife wants to crack down on.”
3. McCaskill’s Ex-Husband Was Murdered
Joseph Shepard is McCaskill’s second husband. Her first husband was David Exposito. In 2004, then age 64, Esposito was found slain outside a daycare center, according to KMBC-TV.
The television station reported that Exposito was the father of McCaskill’s two children: “Exposito and McCaskill divorced in 1995. The couple had three children, an 18-year-old son and two daughters, 16 and 14,” the television station reported at the time.
The story says that Expositio was shot to death and that the motive was unclear; it quotes McCaskill as saying in a news release, “Obviously this is an incredibly difficult time for me and my children, as they grieve the loss of their father. I will be spending time with my children to help them through this terrible loss, and I know others will respect my family’s privacy at this tragic time.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Exposito “was arrested for smoking marijuana at a local casino while McCaskill was out of town.” You can read his obituary here.
4. Joseph Shepard Was Once Accused of Domestic Violence
Joseph Shepard’s past has fallen under the microscope since he married Claire McCaskill. Fox News alleged that Shepard “was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife, and his company once victim-blamed a woman who sued for sexual misconduct.”
According to Fox News, Shepard told police at the time that his then wife Suzanne “began pushing him” but she alleged in a petition for order of protection that, “Police called by friend in my home. Joseph entered my home. I told him to leave. He came up to me looking angry. I put my hands up to protect my breasts as they are sore (cancer). He has hit me before in the breast. He grabbed my wrist and arm and pushed me up against the wall & I hit my head & back & he bruised my arms by pinching me.”
After a conservative group ran an advertisement highlighting the old allegations, Suzy Shepard, the ex-wife of Joseph Shepard said she was supporting McCaskill’s re-election bid and called the ad “disgusting dirty politics,” according to The Kansas City Star.
McCaskill, the former state auditor, prosecutor and legislator, has three children and four stepchildren.
5. Claire McCaskill Declined to Release Joseph Shepard’s Tax Returns
Claire McCaskill courted controversy when she declined to release her husband’s tax returns, a September 2018 story by The Associated Press reported.
The AP reported that McCaskill filed separately from her husband and released her own returns, showing fairly modest income.
In 2017, McCaskill tweeted about her husband’s health after he was hospitalized for heart problems, writing, “Nothing like a near death experience for someone you love to get your priorities straight. He’s much better.”
She also wrote, “My husband has a very big heart but right now not working very well. Currently in ICU. Thanks for your prayers in advance.”