Unhappy with how the media is covering Chris Murphy’s brush with foreclosure and failure to pay his property taxes and rent, Linda McMahon brought her story to the Office of Congressional Ethics Sunday.
McMahon is the Republican running against Murphy in the U.S. Senate race. The two are locked in a “too-close-to-call” race for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.
The complaint filed by McMahon’s campaign manager Corry Bliss alleges that Murphy received preferential treatment from Webster Bank when they agreed to give him a 4.9 percent interest rate on a $43,000 home equity line of credit in 2008. Bliss noted that the interest rate was extended to Murphy after he defaulted on his 2007 mortgage, which was sold by Webster to Chase Home Finance. Bliss also noted that it was after he had a tax lien placed on his home in 2005 for failing to pay his property taxes.
But the complaint, which was given by the McMahon campaign to Politico earlier Sunday afternoon, may be more of a publicity stunt since the Office of Congressional Ethics can’t forward the complaint to the Office of House Ethics 60-days before an election.
But that technicality didn’t deter the McMahon campaign from filing the complaint.
“No average American would have been able to secure a loan such as Congressman Murphy’s,” Bliss alleges in the complaint. “Even borrowers in good standing would have had trouble doing so.”
“Webster Bank’s prime interest rate on home mortgage during this time was 5 percent, and the average interest rate in Connecticut for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 6.14 percent,” Bliss wrote.
The Murphy campaign called the complaint “desperate.”
“Since Linda McMahon can’t talk about her real record as CEO – laying off Connecticut workers, while taking millions in taxpayer-funded credits and denying health care and disability to her workers – all she’s left with is for her campaign manager to file a desperate ethics attack filled with lies,” Taylor Lavender, Murphy‘s spokeswoman, said.
The McMahon campaign allegation is that Murphy, who was a member of the House Financial Services Committee, received special treatment from the bank.
“On October 3, 2008—shortly after Webster Bank extended Congressman Murphy his new home equity credit line—Congressman Murphy voted for the Toxic Asset Relief Program, or ‘TARP.’ On November 21, 2008 Webster Bank received $400 million in TARP bailout funds.”
However, Webster Bank denied on Friday and Saturday that it gave any preferential treatment to Murphy.
“In 2008, Webster refinanced Congressman Murphy’s home equity loan into a home equity line of credit, again with no exceptions and at market rates and terms,” a bank statement reads.
“The 4.99 percent interest rate on the credit line was well above the 3.99 percent rate that the bank’s most creditworthy customers were receiving at the time,“ the Webster statement says. “The credit line was repaid when the home was sold in 2010. Currently Murphy has no outstanding loans with Webster.”
It went onto say that while Webster PAC did contribute a total $2,100 to Murphy’s 2008 and 2010 campaigns those donations had “no effect on Murphy’s banking relationship with Webster.”
And while the bank did ultimately decide to participate in the TARP program, it has repaid the Treasury’s $400 million in 2010.
“As soon as I found out I made a mistake I paid back my creditors and that’s a statement about values,” Murphy said Friday.
Murphy said charges that he got a “sweetheart deal“ on the rate from Webster was “ridiculous.”
“I applied to Webster Bank just like any of their customers would,” Murphy said.
He said McMahon went to court to avoid paying her debts.
“Let’s remember, it’s Linda McMahon who declared bankruptcy following a series of failed investments and shaky tax shelters and refused to pay taxes for five years,“ Lavender said in a statement Sunday. “McMahon is still refusing to explain how much and to who she still owes.”