Campaign: McMahons repaid half of bankruptcy debt
Hartford - Linda McMahon's campaign said Wednesday that she and her husband repaid more than half of their nearly $1 million debt after they filed for bankruptcy in 1976, but could not provide any documents to substantiate that claim.
Bankruptcy files obtained by The Day at a national records storage facility in Massachusetts this week show that Linda and Vince McMahon faced $955,805 in claims in 1976 from 26 creditors. McMahon declined requests to produce bankruptcy documents during her previous and current U.S. Senate runs.
When The Day provided copies on Tuesday, her campaign said she was seeing them for the first time.
The court docket shows the McMahons' bankruptcy case ending in 1982 with a reported $1,265 payment to creditors and a court-appointed trustee.
However, McMahon's campaign claims that the couple repaid more than half the debt, including a $364,492 claim filed by their biggest creditor, the former Mattatuck Bank & Trust Co. of Waterbury. The campaign also maintains that the McMahons repaid the IRS nearly $250,000, although bankruptcy documents show they only owed $100,064.
Supplemental documents that could confirm details of agreements between the McMahons and individual creditors likely were destroyed with the rest of the case files after 20 years had passed, according to records clerks.
"Our interpretation of the court docket is that over half of the creditors were paid back," campaign spokesman Todd Abrajano said Wednesday.
The campaign maintains that the McMahons no longer have copies of their bankruptcy documents. Asked on Wednesday whether they would show documents or checks confirming that they had paid off half of their former creditors, Abrajano said, "The campaign and Linda has released everything in our possession."
"We're talking about a court proceeding that happened almost 40 years ago," he said.
A poll released Wednesday has McMahon and her Democratic opponent, 5th Congressional District Rep. Chris Murphy, in a statistical dead heat in the Senate race. The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll showed Murphy with a 37 percent to 33 percent lead on McMahon, but with 30 percent of voters undecided and a 4.4 percent margin of error.
The poll gave McMahon an 8-point lead in eastern Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District.
The personal finances of the two candidates have become central to this year's campaign, with McMahon repeatedly calling on Murphy to release documents related to his financial problems in the mid-2000s, and Murphy criticizing McMahon for not paying back all their creditors.
The McMahons lost their home in West Hartford in early 1976 when Connecticut Bank and Trust Co. foreclosed. They owed $133,167 on the mortgage at the time; the house was later sold at auction for $147,500.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court discharged the McMahons' debt in February 1977. One month later, their biggest creditor - Mattatuck Bank - gave the couple a new $90,000 construction mortgage for a different West Hartford property, land records show.
In July 1978, Mattatuck Bank also gave the McMahons a $120,000 mortgage on that new property at 9.5 percent interest.
The McMahon campaign could not provide details Wednesday about Mattatuck Bank's $364,492 claim against the McMahons, or why the bank granted them another loan so soon after the bankruptcy.
Mattatuck Bank was merged in 1983 with Hartford National Corp., which later was merged into a succession of bank institutions and is now Bank of America. The location of Mattatuck Bank's records was not available Wednesday.
Also in 1978, documents show the McMahons' received a separate $20,000 loan with an 18 percent interest rate. The loan was from the late Victor Colaci of Waterbury, an individual once charged with loansharking, according to reports in the Waterbury Republican American and Hartford Courant.
Mattatuck Bank discharged the McMahons' $120,000 mortgage in 1979 when the family moved to Cape Cod, where Vince McMahon got involved in running the Cape Cod Coliseum.
The McMahons, now of Greenwich, would not become multimillionaires until the 1980s, when they bought out Vince McMahon's father's wrestling business and transformed what is now WWE into a global enterprise.
According to the 2002 book, "Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation," Vince McMahon suffered financial setbacks from a series of lackluster promotions in the mid-1970s, including an unsuccessful jump by Evel Knievel across Snake River Canyon in Idaho and a novelty fight between Muhammad Ali and a Japanese wrestler.