[posted 5/24/10 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]
With her Republican convention win Friday night and the cloud over Democratic opponent Richard Blumenthal’s lie about his military record, Linda McMahon may be on her way to becoming Connecticut’s next United States senator.
Thanks to distracting irrelevancies – such as images of McMahon’s television crotch kicks and the name of her husband’s yacht – she so far has gotten a free pass in the vetting of her fitness for high office. But, ever helpful, your humble blogger will continue to remind readers of the aspects of her World Wrestling Entertainment background that the campaign coverage so far has either buried or ignored altogether.
These aspects involve three prominent politicians – one a Republican-Independent, the other two Democrats – who have figured in Linda McMahon’s rise to power.
The McMahon pitch is that self-funding a slick media campaign keeps a candidate from being beholden to moneyed interests. The McMahon lesson, however, is that the means of such an ascent are, ipso facto, moneyed interests.
The former senator and governor is an old McMahon family crony. How old? He helped engineer the involvement of Linda and her husband Vince with the Special Olympics. The reason at the time was that Vince and WWE’s predecessor company needed a little image-buffing while they were under federal investigation, then indictment, for the illegal steroid trafficking of their doctor and wrestlers. But you never know how handy such a connection can prove nearly two decades later. When commentators went into a tizzy over old footage of “Eugene,” a retarded WWE character, the McMahons could cite their Special Olympics patronage for political cover.
When WWE went public with a 1999 stock offering, Weicker was on the ground floor as a charter investor and member of the board of directors. He has made millions from stock options and dividends.
Weicker has not endorsed anyone in the Senate race. Despite his WWE connection, he had endorsed Chris Dodd, an old Senate colleague, before Dodd dropped out. Much of Weicker’s legacy work involves health care reform, through his presidency of the Trust for America’s Health. Blumenthal supports and would help implement Obama reforms; McMahon doesn’t and would not. (For now, let’s not even get into what a mockery Director Weicker’s WWE makes of the concept of public health, with its no-benefits, independent-contractor technicalities and its shameful record of occupational health and safety – and death.) But don’t hold your breath waiting for Weicker to speak clearly on this one.
The long-time mayor of Stamford, WWE’s headquarters city, won the Democratic nomination for governor at last weekend’s convention and will be challenged in a primary by Ned Lamont.
In January 2009, when Governor Jodi Rell nominated Linda McMahon for the state Board of Education, Mayor Malloy was right there with politicians of both parties speaking glowingly of her qualifications. McMahon was subsequently found to have lied about an academic degree, but so what? More than a year later, with her appointment to public office having already served its purpose as a launch pad for her Senate run, McMahon resigned – just as the Hartford Courant was revealing that her disclosure statements at the time of her nomination had maintained with a straight face that there were no controversies in her past.
My blog has exposed another dimension of the relationship between Stamford city government and the McMahons: the kid-glove treatment by the Stamford police after a local teenage wrestling fan edited the Wikipedia biography of WWE star Chris Benoit, in June 2007, to state that his wife Nancy was dead – more than half a day before her body, and those of Chris Benoit himself and their son, were discovered in a grisly double murder/suicide. The video of the interrogation of the Wikipedia editor (which I obtained only after a long Freedom of Information battle) shows that none of the important questions was asked, perhaps to help protect WWE’s phony timeline of what it knew about the Benoit crime and when it knew it.
Just as Linda McMahon was being nominated for the state Board of Education, Congressman Henry Waxman, then chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was ending his investigation of drugs and death in WWE with a whimper: he quietly abandoned a push for public hearings and shuttled his findings over to the White House Office of Drug Policy Control. Earlier this year the Hearst newspapers reviewed that story but never closed the loop.
The Obama administration did not follow up on the Waxman report. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, had received Congressional campaign contributions from Linda McMahon.
WWE’s Washington lobbyist, the K&L Gates law firm, last year reported expenditures of “zero” on the company’s behalf and de-registered as its lobbyist. Mission accomplished!
President Obama’s gifts to Linda McMahon were of commission as well as omission. Last December he taped a welcome for WWE’s NBC “Tribute to the Troops” special from Iraq, which was promptly exploited by the McMahon campaign for partisan gain.
(And what about the report in The Day that a federal prosecutor in 1989 tipped Linda McMahon about his pending investigation? Under other circumstances, that would sound like a job for Obama Justice.)
With opponents like Weicker, Malloy, and Obama, who needs supporters? To pervert the words of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, Linda McMahon’s political career is not a victory of party. It is a celebration of fiefdom.