U.S. Senate candidates Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy dueled over their respective personal financial woes Friday.

McMahon, a Republican, challenged her Democratic rival to disclose more details behind the July 2008 mortgage he obtained despite missing payments on an earlier mortgage.

Meanwhile, Murphy pressed the Greenwich businesswoman to share more about the bankruptcy she and her husband went through many years ago — a story she often cites on the campaign trail — and particularly to reveal how much money her creditors never received.

“Congressman Murphy owes it to the people of Connecticut to provide full, detailed and honest disclosure about what exactly occurred and how he was able to qualify for a below-market loan rate so soon after default,” McMahon campaign manager Corry Bliss wrote in a media statement.

Bliss was referring to a story first disclosed this week in The Hartford Courant that Murphy was sued in 2007 for foreclosure of the mortgage on the Cheshire house he had purchased two years earlier.

Murphy campaign spokesman Ben Marter responded Friday that Murphy and Cathy Holahan — who would get married in the summer of 2007 — “were in the process of merging their finances and inadvertently missed mortgage payments. When they found out about it, they got in contact with their bank and then paid them in full.”

The couple secured a 4.99 percent mortgage rate in July 2008 from Webster Bank, which McMahon’s campaign called “an apparent sweetheart mortgage deal.”

“Chris walked into his local bank branch and got a mortgage like anybody else would that was right in line with the average at the time,” Marter said.

Murphy also had been elected to Congress by that point, providing him with a $165,000 per year salary. Webster Bank issued a statement Friday, indicating that it refinanced Murphy’s home equity loan into a home equity line of credit “with no exceptions and at market rates and terms.  The credit line was repaid when the home was sold in 2010.  Currently he has no outstanding loans with Webster.”

The bank added that “Congressman Murphy consistently met the terms of all of his agreements with Webster. Congressman Murphy received the same high quality service extended to all Webster customers.”

The Courant also disclosed this week that Murphy was sued in December 2003 for failing to make rent payments, and that the case was withdrawn one month later.

Marter said Friday that “Chris inadvertently missed rent payments. He paid off the outstanding balance when he found out about the missed payments and continued living in the same apartment for over a year until he moved into his new home.”

The Murphy campaign called McMahon’s statements a “completely hypocritical attack” and pressed for more details on the 1976 personal bankruptcy filing by McMahon and her husband, Vince.

“Connecticut Bank and Trust foreclosed on McMahon for defaulting on her mortgage, but instead of paying her debts, she filed for bankruptcy and walked away from her responsibility,” Marter said. “That’s the real difference: when Chris’s family found out about the missed payments, they paid them in full. McMahon didn’t.”

McMahon campaign spokesman Todd Abrajano called the Murphy camp’s arguments “ridiculous.”

“He is trying to distract from his own problems of six years ago by talking about Linda McMahon’s bankruptcy of 36 years ago.”

Abrajano added that the McMahons’ case “has been covered ad nauseum in the Connecticut media” and the the GOP nominee hasn’t shied away from questions on the matter.

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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