U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., claims she's not beholden to the Democratic Party "establishment." But the second-term incumbent -- who's seeking a third term later this year -- will mingle with plenty of the establishment at her Beverly Hills fundraiser in May.
Topping the guest list: former President Barack Obama.
McCaskill faces a tough battle in November in a state that President Donald Trump carried by nearly 19 points in 2016. Her Republican opponent is Missouri state Attorney General Josh Hawley, whose new ad calls out "hypocrite" McCaskill for hobnobbing in Hollywood.
In addition to Obama, McCaskill's May 6 event will feature filmmaker Steven Spielberg, movie studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and other Los Angeles-area stars, Politico reported. It will be Obama’s first post-presidential fundraiser for an individual candidate.
Hawley’s ad features clips of the incumbent Missouri senator saying “I fought the establishment almost every step of the way in my career,” and “I could care less what the national party thinks.”
But, as the ad claims, “McCaskill is the top recipient from lobbyists and lawyers in all of Congress.” The ad concludes with a dire message against the Democrat: “Fighting … all the way to Beverly Hills. Hypocrite Claire McCaskill.”
Republicans have pointed out that Missouri never voted for Obama and the deep-red state may not be too keen on a Hollywood-bankrolled campaign.
“Question for every red-state Democrat today: ‘Will they welcome Obama to their states and remind folks that they voted for his disastrous policies?’” Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
McCaskill fired back against the criticism Wednesday, telling union members at the state Capitol that Hawley also has out-of-state donors and is supported by the state’s megadonor, David Humphreys. She also said the event will be held in Beverly Hills because of Obama’s schedule.
“A fake populist is a guy with an Ivy League education that rides into office on the back of one of the richest men in Missouri, who has made it his life’s work to destroy labor unions,” McCaskill said of Hawley, according to the newspaper.
The Republican’s spokeswoman, Kelli Ford, told the paper that the Democratic senator “has sold Missouri’s vote to Hollywood and she’s taking Barack Obama out there with her to pick up the cash.”
She added: “Only an arrogant liberal who thinks Missourians are backward and stupid would go get a boatload of money in Beverly Hills while accusing her opponent of being an elitist.”
Attacks charging McCaskill with being complacent toward voters in Missouri have intensified in recent months. State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., a Democrat, slammed the senator in February for ignoring the Black community but still asking them to vote so Republicans don’t gain another Senate seat.
“They come in and they say, ‘Listen, we could lose a Senate seat.’ And they’re telling us that we can lose a senator that we never knew existed because this person hasn’t shown up in our community. This person hasn’t spoken to our needs,” Franks Jr. said during a town hall meeting.
“I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her a-- to St. Louis. Period. She’s going to have to show up, and it’s not just about talking. You have made some folks upset and if there is a reason why you voted this way, then you need to effectively communicate that,” he added.
McCaskill, in response, asked elected African-American leaders in Missouri to sign a letter pushing back against the criticism that she takes the votes for granted.
None of the leaders signed the letter, the Kansas City Star reported.