2019 Recipient – Claire McCaskill, United States Senator
Claire McCaskill has spent her career as a prosecutor and elected official devoted to public service and earned a reputation in the United States Senate as a plain-spoken, independent, and effective champion for Missourians and all Americans.
Born and raised in the Show-Me state, she attended college and law school at the University of Missouri, and began her career as an Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor in Kansas City, specializing in prosecuting arsons and sex crimes.
She was elected in 1982 to the Missouri House of Representatives. In 1992 she made history when she became the first woman elected Jackson County prosecutor, where she launched one of the nation’s first drug courts and established a pioneering domestic violence unit. Claire McCaskill continued raising the level of accountability during her two terms as Missouri State Auditor.
In 2006 she became the first woman elected to the United States Senate from Missouri, winning the seat once held by Harry S. Truman. She was re-elected in 2012.
Senator McCaskill’s background as a prosecutor and auditor deeply informed her work in the Senate, where she championed a six-year-long battle to reduce wasteful wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. She fought to curb sexual assault in the military and on college and university campuses. She also led a historic, bipartisan investigation into online sex trafficking on the website Backpage and passed legislation to give law enforcement tools to prosecute websites like it.
In 2018 Senator McCaskill launched a major congressional investigation into the business practices of opioid manufacturers and worked across the aisle to pass legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs. The daughter of a World War II veteran, she fought tirelessly for vets, including passing into law a bill to deliver decades-old relief to veterans who were exposed to mustard gas. Known for her work on behalf of consumers, she spearheaded efforts to improve consumer protections against robocalls, recalled vehicles, and excessive cable bills. In order to seek out the concerns of her constituents, she held numerous town hall meetings throughout Missouri, becoming known as the “town hall Senator.”
Senator McCaskill and her husband Joseph Shepard live in St. Louis, and have a blended family of seven children and eleven grandchildren.