Some information that I was unable, for space reasons, to fit into my exploration of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s 1976 personal bankruptcy, published tonight on-line and in tomorrow’s Hearst newspapers:
1. If you read the story, you’ll find that while there is not much of a paper trail, I did come across “a few scraps of court records” that provided the names of some creditors.
Some banks are named. All are defunct or long ago merged into giant financial institutions.
I did manage to track down representatives of families who own or owned two of the creditors mentioned – Bristol Construction Co. and Oil Heat & Engineering. They were extremely nice and patient but unable to provide any help or even confirm the businesses and the relatives running them back in 1976 were ever owed money by Linda and her husband, Vince.
2. What were the McMahons doing to make a living in Cape Cod? The story states that in 1979, three years after filing for personal bankruptcy, the couple moved to Cape Cod, then returned to Connecticut, finally settling in their current hometown of Greenwich after purchasing the company they transformed into World Wrestling Entertainment from Vince’s father.
According to one source – the 2002 book “Sex, Lies and Headlocks” – the McMahons purchased the Cape Cod Coliseum. The deal “involved no money down. Instead Vince would pay a monthly mortgage … using the cash flow produced by the coliseum to come up with the payment … Having never before had this kind of responsibility, Vinnie and Linda worked all hours to make the coliseum a success.”
Evan Weiner, a freelance sports journalist from Westchester who has written a book, “The Business and Politics of Sports,” told me that the Cape Cod experience informed the couple’s approach to turning WWE into a hybrid of sports and entertainment. It was while running the coliseum that Vince realized the audiences for professional wrestling and for concerts were not all that different, leading to WWE’s work with MTV in the 1980s, Weiner said.
“He used the Cape Cod Coliseum as sort of his experiment grounds. He basically used that as a laboratory and it was there that he cooked up all of that stuff that he ended up eventually doing in World Wrestling Entertainment,” Weiner said.
3. A profile of Linda McMahon published recently by The Daily Beast.com raised new questions about the bankruptcy because of the following sentence: “At one point, when they were living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in the 1970s, they went bankrupt and briefly depended on food stamps.”
Democrats jumped all over that line because it appeared that McMahon either could not get the story that she has been telling on the campaign trail to connect with voters straight or because the family had actually gone bankrupt twice and this was the first time it had been mentioned during the Senate race.
“Neither Linda, nor the campaign, has ever insinuated there were two bankruptcies,” McMahon spokesman Ed Patru told me in an e-mail. He said Daily Beast reporter Lloyd Grove “mistakenly noted in a recent report the McMahons went bankrupt while living in Gaithersburg. I have made Grove aware that the political world is turning on its head over this issue … They did not declare bankruptcy in Gaithersburg. They were just poor.”
I e-mailed The Daily Beast asking them to confirm they had been contacted by Patru and that Grove had made a mistake.
Andrew Kirk with The Beast replied, “We have no comment on the private discussions that have taken place between Lloyd Grove and Mr. Patru.”
I asked if The Beast had issued an update/clarification/correction, because I hadn’t seen one.
“No. We clearly state if an article has been updated on the piece,” Andrew wrote back.
The article has yet to be updated.