McMahons owed nearly $1 million in 1976 bankruptcy
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon and her husband owed 26 creditors a total of just under $1 million when they filed for personal bankruptcy protection in 1976, according to documents obtained by a newspaper.
McMahon, a Republican, has used the narrative of rising out of bankruptcy to become the successful CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment as a part of her campaign. She had previously said she had no records from the bankruptcy.
The Day of New London found the records in the National Archives and Records Administration in Massachusetts and reported on them Wednesday.
The bankruptcy records show $955,805 in debt, which included $364,492 owed to the former Mattatuck Bank & Trust Co. of Waterbury; $109,575 to Harold J. Hemingway, who the McMahon campaign said was an official with the former North American Bank & Trust Co.; and $100,064 to the Internal Revenue Service. A court discharged the debts in February 1977.
‘‘It’s wrong that McMahon made hundreds of millions of dollars at the WWE but still has not paid back the people she owes from her foreclosure and bankruptcy,’’ said Ben Marter, a spokesman for Chris Murphy, McMahon’s Democratic opponent.
Corry Bliss, McMahon’s campaign manager, said the IRS and well over half of the other creditors were repaid.
‘‘Some were and some weren't,’’ he said Wednesday. ‘‘That’s why bankruptcy is so serious. Bankruptcy provides people with the opportunity to start over.’’
He said neither McMahon nor the campaign had seen the documents before Tuesday.
‘‘These documents verify everything that the campaign and Linda McMahon have said about her bankruptcy of almost 40 years ago,’’ Bliss said. ‘‘Linda’s financial struggle when she was young and with a young family is one of the main reasons so many people support her. People today in Connecticut who are struggling through tough economic times can relate to Linda McMahon’s story.’’
The McMahons sought protection in April 1976, three months after the Connecticut Bank and Trust Co. foreclosed on their West Hartford home, on which they owned $133,167. The house was auctioned for $147,500 in October 1976.
The case was closed in February 1982 after a trustee for the creditors paid out $1,264.86, and the McMahons regained possession of a 1972 Buick Riviera, according to the documents.
The newspaper’s disclosure of the McMahons’ old bankruptcy documents comes as Linda McMahon continues to criticize Murphy for not releasing documents pertaining to a home equity line of credit he received, months after being sued in 2007 for defaulting on a mortgage.
McMahon’s campaign has filed an ethics complaint with the U.S. House accusing Murphy of using his congressional position to obtain the credit line, which the campaign calls ‘‘a prohibitive gift’’ from Webster Bank. The bank says it treated Murphy the same as other customers.
On Wednesday, McMahon’s campaign challenged Murphy to release various documents relating to the line of credit, as well as information about how many mortgage payments he had missed when he was sued for default.
‘‘It’s apparent that congressman Chris Murphy is in full cover-up mode about the special home loan deal he obtained,’’ said Corry Bliss, McMahon’s campaign manager.
Ben Marter, a campaign spokesman for Murphy, said McMahon ‘‘doesn’t have leg to stand on’’ given the new details of her bankruptcy.
‘‘When Chris made mistakes and fell behind on his bills, he paid his debts,’’ he said. ‘‘McMahon gambled on risky tax shelters and ridiculous stunts and then used bankruptcy proceedings to walk away from the million-dollar debt she owed. She still refuses to say who was actually paid back and who wasn't.’’