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Karen McCarthy, former five-term member of Congress, dies at 63

October 6, 2010 | 11:52 am

Mccarthy Former five-term U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy, who represented the Kansas City, Mo., area for more than a decade but left amid allegations that she misused her staff and campaign funds for personal gain, died Tuesday. She was 63.

McCarthy died at a nursing home in northeast Kansas, said Robert Kalkofen, manager of McGilley Midtown Chapel in Kansas City. She had Alzheimer's disease.

McCarthy had been living in a nursing home in suburban Johnson County, Kan., since spring 2009. A family statement at the time said she had bipolar disorder, which had gone undiagnosed for a decade.

McCarthy, who was among a dozen Democrats dubbed the "lucky 13" when they won amid the 1994 GOP landslide that switched control of Congress, announced in late 2003 that she would not seek a sixth term. Among the allegations were that she misused campaign funds for trips to the Grammy Awards.

McCarthy was elected to the Missouri House in 1976 after working as a high school teacher.

In 1994, she beat Republican Ron Freeman in the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Wheat, who stepped down to run for the Senate.

In March 2003, she fell on an escalator in a House office building and cut her head. The next day, McCarthy said she was an alcoholic and left for a monthlong stay at an Arizona rehabilitation center.

She announced her resignation under pressure in December 2003.

The House ethics committee ultimately found that McCarthy misused campaign funds for one Grammys trip but decided not to act against her.

McCarthy was born in Haverhill, Mass., on March 18, 1947. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas in 1969 and a master of business administration from the University of Missouri in 1976.

-- Associated Press

 Photo: Karen McCarthy in 1997. Credit: Associated Press