The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Linda McMahon announced today it has filed an ethics complaint against her Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, accusing him of accepting favorable mortgage terms from Webster Bank.
The campaign gave the story to Politico last night, ensuring that news of the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics would be on the radar in Washington as Murphy and other members of Congress return for a week of votes.
In 2010, the McMahon campaign used a video it had of Richard Blumenthal falsely referring to service in Vietnam in May. The story died out long before Election Day.
This time, the ethics complaint and stories of Murphy’s admitted financial irresponsibility — he was sued for missed rental and mortgage payments — broke after Labor Day, putting Murphy on the defensive at a time when voters traditional begin to focus more on campaigns.
As Politico noted in its story posted at 10:37 p.m. Sunday, the ethics complaint filed by McMahon’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, cannot prompt an investigation until after the election.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, should it find the complaint has sufficient merit to be pursued, cannot refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee within the 60-day window prior to an election.
The essence of McMahon’s complaint is that Murphy shouldn’t have been able to obtain a home equity loan from Webster after getting sued for late payments. In the case of his mortgage, Murphy became current only after a bank began foreclosure proceedings in 2007, a year after Murphy was elected to Congress.
“Congressman Murphy, leveraging his official position, was granted a generous home mortgage — despite a long history of financial irresponsibility and shortly after defaulting on his existing home mortgage payments and being sued by the mortgage holder for foreclosure — from Webster Bank, a bank he both regulates and voted to bail out. During this same time period, Congressman Murphy accepted over $2,000 in campaign contributions from the bank’s political action committee.”
Murphy campaign spokesman Ben Marter said Murphy obtained the Webster loan after his family income had tripled and without a judgment being entered against him, since the foreclosure proceeding was withdrawn after Murphy made the back mortgage payments.
“He walked into his local branch and got the mortage like anybody else,” Marter said.