Connecticut Senate race raises public right to know issues

“So now we have to be really serious,” Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon told her supporters the August night she won the Connecticut primary by a 3-1 margin, having outspent her opponent by a 12-1 margin. McMahon says the “economic crisis that threatens our future” is the crucial issue of the campaign, adding, “Washington is out of control, and it’s not too much to say that America’s future is on the line.” She is now challenging Chis Murphy in the Connecticut Senate race.

Then came the sexploitation tapes in McMahon’s background that have long been a source of complaint, both for degrading women and showing violence against women, including one tape where McMahon herself decks a scantily clad young woman.

Now mid-way between the primary and the election, the contest between McMahon and Democratic nominee Rep. Chris Murphy  is paying less attention to the national economy and much more attention the control of borderline raunchy videos produced by World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) back when McMahon and her husband Vince McMahon were running the family business together.

When the Democratic Party recently exploited an exploitation tape in a campaign ad, McMahon threatened to sue, claiming copyright infringement and the ad came down within hours. The website denied the action was political, but due to “a third-party notification by World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. claiming that this material is infringing: PG TV”Â Â In recent days, other internet material has appeared and quickly vanished at WEE’s request. WWE itself announced self-cleansing plans to remove “dated and edgier footage from digital platforms,” the sort of material used against McMahon during her losing Senate campaign in 2010.

WWE also has plans to issue “a three-disk collection of DVDs including salacious programming” produced when WWE co-founder McMahon headed the business. But the release of eight hours of sexualized content from the mid-1990s on, during the WWE’s so-called Attitude Era, when it went gross to capture a younger, male demographic, with great success, won’t happen till after the election.

Last May, a Connecticut editorial characterized McMahon as having amassed her fortune from “the business of violence, pornography, and general raunch.” McMahon went into full frontal backlash, demanding a retraction and threatening to sue, and WWE wrote a letter to the same effect.

Although WWE has also asked YouTube to take down videos in 2010, the Journal Inquirer of north-central Connecticut reports “YouTube has since made available more than 400,000 videos with WWE-related content, but the company recently again requested it take down videos that McMahon’s opponents and other critics have called pornographic or offensive. They show scenes of simulated heterosexual and lesbian sex, simulated necrophilia, and debasement and humiliation, including against a character portrayed as mentally disabled.”

Another issue distracting the candidates from the national economy is their attacks on each other’s personal finances, according to the New York Times.

Vince and Linda McMahon, who are worth an estimated $500 million these days, filed for bankruptcy in 1976. That enabled them to walk away from almost $1 million in debts to 26 creditors, including Gerard E. Langeler, now 96 and living in New Hampshire, who was owed $4,100.04 for advertising and publicity work. “It didn’t end well,” he said. “I did my best to forget it.”

The Day of New London broke the story September 18 after looking at the bankruptcy records. McMahon had never made a secret of the bankruptcy, using it to connect with others having financial problems, but she had refused all requests for any documents. Using details that had never before been public, the paper estimated the 1976 debts would not be worth about $3.9 million, or about one-sixteenth of what McMahon has so far spent on her political campaigns.

While the McMahons’ debts have been legally satisfied through the bankruptcy process, McMahon’s campaign would not say whether the debtors were made whole once the McMahons could afford to pay. More recently, McMahon has said that she and her husband have the “intention to reimburse all private individual creditors that can be located.”Â Langeler and others have said they have not been paid.

Pamela Behn, whose family owned Blue Lanam Farm in Colchester where the McMahons boarded and bred Appaloosa horses, said her family has not been paid the $33,171 the McMahons owed in 1976. “I find it difficult to believe that people can write off debts and sleep well at night,” Behn, 68, who now lives in Utah, told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers before McMahon announced her intent. “That’s not the way I was raised.”

Meanwhile, Murphy continues to refuse to release documents relating to his 2007 near-foreclosure experience that was resolved by a bank loan McMahon calls fishy. She has also attacked him for making late payments on not only his mortgage, but his car tax and property taxes as well. The McMahons also had a late property tax payment this year, saying they never received the original bill.

According to polls, the race has tightened significantly since the spring of 2011, when Murphy had a double-digit lead over McMahon. In March 2012, one poll showed Murphy with 52 per cent, McMahon with 37, and 9 per cent undecided. By mid-September, both candidates’ results were mixed, with Murphy leading 37-33 in one poll and McMahon leading 45-41 in another. Those polls showed the Undecided vote increasing to 14-28 per cent as the electorate got to know the candidates better.

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