Richard Blumenthal and his family's Empire State Building

Does Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's family really own the Empire State Building?

This quirky fact was unearthed by Blumenthal's rival for Connecticut's open Senate seat, Linda McMahon, and she hurled it at him in a strange show of pique during their televised debate Monday night.

Stop counting my money for me, McMahon chastised Blumenthal, after he brought up the millions of her own money she has spent on the campaign.

And by the way, she went on to add, in what you might call her best schoolgirl taunt: your family owns the Empire State Building.

Really? What a strange thing to say. And is it true?

I asked Blumenthal's campaign to comment Tuesday but I never heard back from anyone.

A quick review of the attorney general's most recent financial statement with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics shows that his wife, Cynthia Malkin, indeed has an interest in Empire State Building Associates LLC, which was created in part by her father in 1961, when he and other investors acquired a master lease on the landmark building.

They bought the underlying land in 2002 with a $61 million mortgage, what has likely turned out to be a shrewd investment.

So it turns out it is Blumenthal's in-laws who own the Empire State Building and a whole lot of other real estate, according to the financial disclosure filing, which does not assign any specific value to the holdings.

I wouldn't be surprised, based on the filings with the ethics office, if the Malkin family assets add up to nearly as much as all the money the McMahons have amassed with their successful World Wrestling Entertainment empire.

McMahon's own financial disclosure with the state includes a long list of stocks owned by the candidate, some of them eye-opening considering her debate answers Monday night.

McMahon admitted Monday she would have voted for the banking bailout, "while holding" her nose. Would she have voted to rescue the banks because she owns a lot of bank stocks, including shares in the bailout poster bank Bank of America?

She said Monday she would have drawn the line, though, on bailout money for General Motors and would not have supported rescuing the car company from demise. Is that because she owns stock in Ford Motor Co., not GM?

So does it matter that the attorney general is married into a family rich in real estate? I don't really see the connection McMahon was trying to make.

She was suggesting, I suppose, that Blumenthal's relatives should kick in for his campaign just as she is spending a fortune on her own. But you don't have to be married to a rich person to know that the in-laws' money is not yours.

McMahon, of course, has incredibly outspent her opponent, spending $21.3 million, according to the latest filing reports, and she earned "every nickel" of that, she told the debate audience. Blumenthal, on the other hand, has spent just $1.3 million.

McMahon's strange shout-out about the Empire State Building was actually not the first time it has made the news recently.

This summer, the building owners got grief from Catholic organizations for not using the building's lighting system to commemorate what would have been Mother Teresa's 100th birthday. The building does not use its lights to honor religious figures, the owners sensibly responded.

Instead of the blue and white requested for Mother Teresa, the building was lit in red, white and blue, in honor of Women's Equality Day.

More recently, the building owners lost a high profile public fight before New York City officials to stop a 1,200-foot skyscraper from being built nearby. They complained - whined might be more appropriate - that the new building was going to cast a shadow over their landmark.

The city responded that the skyline is always changing, so get over it.

On the subject of being overcome by big shadows, the attorney general might hope he makes out better than his father-in-law did in New York, with the large one now looming over him here in Connecticut.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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