A Connecticut newspaper claims wrestling company WWE Inc. Violated federal election laws by illegally helping former chief executive Linda McMahon’s U.S. Senate campaign when it threatened a lawsuit against the newspaper two weeks ago.
The Journal Inquirer of Manchester filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last week, saying Stanford-based WWE rendered illegal corporate assistance to McMahon’s campaign. WWE denies the allegation and says it is defending itself against false allegations by the newspaper’s managing editor.
The newspaper reported that Brian Flinn, WWE’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, accused the paper of libel in a letter dated May 24 and threatened legal action if it didn’t print a retraction by Monday. The letter was in response to two opinion columns written this year by Managing Editor Chris Powell, who asserted that McMahon made her fortune from the businesses of pornography and violence.
Powell, however, did not specifically mention WWE in his columns. “The only purpose of Flinn’s letter is intended to use WWE to defend the candidate and to seek to have a chilling effect on journalists in Connecticut who might otherwise criticize Linda McMahon during her campaign”, Journal Inquirer lawyer Richard Weinstein wrote in the FEC complaint.
McMahon, the party-endorsed Republican running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring independent Joe Lieberman, stepped down as WWE’s chief executive before her unsuccessful run for the Senate in 2010, during which she spent about $50 million of her own money. Her husband, Vince McMahon, is now chief executive and board chairman of WWE.
WWE has faced criticism for sexually suggestive content in its wrestling events. Flinn emailed a statement to The Associated Press on Monday afternoon saying there is no basis for the FEC complaint. “WWE is not attempting to prevent the media from exercising its First Amendment rights,” the statement said.
“WWE acted solely and specifically to defend its business and corporate reputation from the reckless and false statement that WWE is in the business of pornography”. An FEC spokeswoman confirmed the agency had received the complaint but declined further comment. Michael Toner, a lawyer for McMahon’s campaign, said in a statement that the complaint is frivolous.
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WWE Helping Linda McMahon In Senate Race?
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