October 9th, 2009
02:25 PM ET
5 years ago

Sens. Nelson, McCaskill locked in prank war

Ahead of the Nebraska-Missouri football game, Missouri Sen. McCaskill and her press secretary were granted access to Nebraska Sen. Nelson's office for the latest round in a prank war that stretches back years.
Ahead of the Nebraska-Missouri football game, Missouri Sen. McCaskill and her press secretary were granted access to Nebraska Sen. Nelson's office for the latest round in a prank war that stretches back years.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Late Wednesday night, Sen. Ben Nelson's office was littered with doctored, deliberately embarrassing photos of the Nebraska senator. There's no investigation looming - Nelson already knows the culprit: a fellow Senate Democrat, who boasted of her exploits on Twitter.

Ahead of the Nebraska-Missouri football game, Missouri Sen. McCaskill and her press secretary were granted access to Nebraska Sen. Nelson's office for the latest round in a prank war that stretches back years.

The senator and her aide replaced official and family portraits.with various doctored pictures of Nelson sporting Missouri's black and gold, and posing with the Mizzou tiger mascot, according to Nelson spokesman Jake Thompson. "Important timely new official photo. Glad @SenBenNelson has finally come around," McCaskill tweeted, along with a picture of Nelson sporting the Mizzou logo on his face, a gold Missouri lapel pin and a gold and black tie.

Both teams have 4-1 overall records, but Nebraska is atop the Big 12 Conference's North Division with a 1-0 conference record while Missouri is 0-1. The latest college football poll ranks Nebraska No. 21, while Missouri is 24th.

Last spring, while McCaskill was presiding over the Senate floor, Nelson was granted access to her office. He went in and rearranged some of her furniture, hung a big Nebraska flag and placed various pictures of himself throughout the office, McCaskill spokeswoman Maria Speiser recounted to CNN.

The pranks started in 2007 the day McCaskill was to be sworn in into The United States Senate for her first term when Sen. Nelson asked McCaskill which biblical verse she had chosen to recite for her ceremony.

"She went into a quiet panic," Speiser recalled. "She started to page through the Bible, thinking frantically 'what am I going to do?'"

"[Nelson] let her go on for a couple minutes thinking she was in trouble for having forgotten she needed a Bible verse, before he whispered to her 'I just love practical jokes.'" Speiser said. Nelson played the same prank on Hillary Clinton before she was sworn in in 2001.

What was Sen. Nelson reaction when the tables were turned?

"He thought it was really funny," said Thompson, who has twice been a target of the senator's pranks.

While the pranks usually happen about once a year, Speiser said she wouldn't be surprised if Nelson tries to retaliate ahead of schedule - "but who knows when that will be," she said.


Filed under: Ben Nelson • Claire McCaskill
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Obama supporter

    Now you talk about a waste of paper and time this is sooooooooooo not new. Who cares that two of our supposive working people in congress are playing pranks, it's ridiculous

    October 9, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. Censorship in Practice form at CNN--S Callahan NYS

    lol....did she EVER pick a verse?...lol.....

    Nothing wrong with harmless fun......this is mild compared to Yankee -Red Socks pranks.....

    October 9, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. Brandon

    Why are you being so cranky about it? It's harmless fun. Do we expect our senators to be robots and only do work? If so, I suggest you do the same and agree to have no fun whatsoever in your line of employment. The article clearly states this happens about ONCE A YEAR. I doubt one day out of 365 spent "pranking" will make a difference in their legislative dedication or performance.

    October 9, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. Mark

    I'm from MO and I'm glad her worthless @ss has nothing better to do..

    October 9, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. Marshall

    How about doing your job!

    October 9, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Not as bad as the prank pulled on the American people 2000-2008.

    October 9, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Dent

    Are you two the fun police?

    October 9, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Susan

    Isn't Ben funny? Claire too. Wish I was in the same position they are so I could have fun playing little pranks on people. Guess when you make good money, have excellent insurance coverage, and no risk whatsoever of losing your home or health, it would be pretty easy to be them. Unfortunately, I am too worried about my job and my out of control insurance costs. But hey Ben, you keep doing what you have been doing. Moving pictures around, making up little stories that aren't true, and oh yeah, hang in there with your "opposition" to improving my situation...you little prankster, you. You are both obviously, totally out of touch.

    October 9, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. Susan

    This is the kind of crap that makes me freakin' nuts. Politicians are totally and completely disconnected from their consituents! Not an ounce of common sense or compassion. People are dying, losing their jobs, and can't afford insurance and they are "locked" in a prank???!!!

    October 9, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. chenna_benna

    I'm glad that they have all the time to play pranks on one another, but not enough time to get health care reform done quickly.

    October 9, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. Steve (the real one)

    The dems can't pass healthcare, yet still blaming the GOP on their inabilities, yet we have time for pranks?? Way to go! The voters are also going to play a prank in November 2010! It 's called "Let's see how many liberals we can bounce out of office! It's gonna be fun! Are you ready?

    October 9, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. kaleto

    Next they'll swipe all the Ws off the computer keyboards. Oh, they already did that in 2001. Glad to see these childish pranksters are earning their huge salaries while so many Americans are out of work.

    October 9, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Pete

    Sweet Mary! Lighten up folks! It was a practical joke!

    Yes, there's a ton both could be doing for their respected states, but allow a little brevity.

    If you don't like the job they do, don't vote for them next go around.

    October 9, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Ron -- Seattle

    This is one former Missourian that thinks this sort of thing is great.

    October 9, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Bob in Pa

    Lighten up people.

    October 9, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    I'm glad someone in this country has a sense of humor.

    October 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Todd

    OMG people. 2 adults having a little fun and some of you have to make a big deal out of it? Noblody gets hurt, us taxpayers aren't footing the bill for lavish expensives and vacations. I don't see a problem with them enjoying themselves and trying to make an otherwise hectic job into something a little more fun.

    October 9, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Chanda

    I would not vote for either of these idiots!

    October 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Annierae

    Hey folks – this is what we get for an annual salary of 165K or eighty bucks an hour; obviously they do not have enough work.

    October 9, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Chris

    Funtastic!
    Regardless of job, political, religious, spiritual, cultural and educational differences it is nice to remember (once in a while) that we are all human and only here for a short time! Enjoy your friend and neighbors company.
    When we set aside ego we make way for progress.

    October 9, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Shasta

    Wow, a lot of you guys need to get that stick out of your derriere. Thanks for a light story to end the week, CNN. I needed it.

    October 9, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. Ace

    Give them Nobel awards too.

    October 9, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |