Growing up in Missouri
After another move, Claire attended Hickman High School in Columbia, while her father served as a state insurance commissioner, and her mother became Columbia's first woman city council member. At Hickman High School, Claire graduated near the top of her class and was very involved in student activities. Since she had already sewn many of her own clothes, Claire took an after-school job working in a fabric store.
The day after graduating from high school, Claire left town for a job busing tables at Lodge of the Four Seasons at Lake of the Ozarks to earn money for college. Waitressing for six years helped Claire work her way through college and law school at the University of Missouri - Columbia.
State and Local Government
After graduating law school, Claire clerked for the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City, and then got a job as an assistant prosecutor in Kansas City, where she was a felony trial prosecutor handling sex crimes, homicides and specializing in arson cases.
In 1982, Claire won a seat in the Missouri State Legislature. She juggled the responsibilities of both mother and legislator and was the first woman to ever give birth while an active member of the Missouri State Legislature. As the only woman attorney in the Missouri General Assembly, she chaired the Civil and Criminal Justice Committee and passed numerous laws that impacted the justice system.
Claire broke new ground again in 1993 when she became the first female prosecutor for Jackson County, which included Kansas City. As head of the largest prosecutor's office in the state, she established many new programs, including a domestic violence unit and one of the nation's first Drug Courts. She held this position until she was sworn in as Missouri Auditor in 1999.
As Auditor, Claire brought an innovative approach to the office by adding performance audits to the traditional financial audits. During her years as auditor, Claire conducted performance audits on state programs, including child support enforcement and the Social Services Foster Care Program, Missouri's Child Abuse Hotline, child care facilities inspections and licensing, nursing homes, and animal care facilities (puppy mills). She also reviewed the state’s Sunshine Law, domestic violence shelters, student loans and college tuition rates in Missouri, and funding and accountability in public schools.
In 2004, Claire took on her own party establishment and became the first person to ever defeat a sitting Missouri governor in a primary election.
In November 2006, Claire became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri, vowing to bring Harry Truman's no-nonsense style of accountability back to Washington, D.C. It only seemed fitting that her place in the Senate chamber is a desk shared by none other than Sen. Truman himself. She was named as one of the select senators to sit on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, formerly known as the Truman Committee. In fact, one of Claire’s first major bills to pass in the Senate established a modern day Truman Committee called the Wartime Contracting Commission, charged with investigating wasteful, fraudulent and abusive contracts in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to working to establish a committee to examine wartime contracting, in 2009 Claire was named chairman of a new subcommittee that investigates contracting abuses throughout the federal government. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight strives to root out government waste by focusing on contracts and the means by which the federal government provides accountability to those contracts.
Claire currently sits on four Senate Committees, including Armed Services, Commerce, HSGAC and Aging. From those committees, she’s taken on: accountability and transparency, earmark reform, increased independence for Inspectors General (IG) that act as federal auditors, credit card regulations, security improvements to foreign repair stations that service our domestic aircraft, reforms to the reverse mortgage industry, consumer protections, and full benefits and resources for our brave veterans and wounded active service members.
After a busy week in Washington, D.C., Claire returns home to St. Louis to a full house. Following her first marriage, Claire spent seven years as a single mom before marrying Joseph Shepard, a St. Louis businessman, in April 2002. They each brought children to the marriage, which created a blended family that includes seven children: Benjamin, Carl, Marilyn, Michael, Austin, Maddie, and Lily. Claire has also been delighted to welcome five grandchildren to the family in recent years. Claire's mother Betty Anne lives with the family and continues to be a strong influence in Claire’s life.
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