- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. | Richard Blumenthal isn’t flashy. Typically dressed in a plain dark suit, he switched his gas-guzzling state vehicle to an austere Honda Civic hybrid when fuel prices jumped. A fixture at potluck suppers, he has built a political career over 20 years of taking on the causes of everyday citizens in Connecticut.

While the front-runner Democrat has accused his Republican Senate opponent, Linda McMahon, of attempting to use her millions to buy the seat - a promised $50 million - he appears uneasy when asked about his own wealth, even though he has loaned his campaign $2.25 million as of Oct. 13.

Mr. Blumenthal’s family is worth tens of millions of dollars. Though his office is in Hartford, his home - like Mrs. McMahon’s - is in well-heeled Greenwich. His wife’s family is part owner of the Empire State Building.

A financial disclosure report filed with the Senate office of public records shows the bulk of Mr. Blumenthal’s family wealth comes from Cynthia Blumenthal’s assets, which are separate from her husband’s and were valued at between $55.3 million and $107 million. Mr. Blumenthal’s assets are listed as between $599,000 and $1.3 million.

The couple also hold some assets jointly, in addition to assets of their four children.

Mrs. Blumenthal’s father, Peter L. Malkin, is known for being one of the original partners in the Empire State Building Associates LLC, which has a 114-year master lease on the Manhattan skyscraper.

Besides the New York icon, the family’s Malkin Properties and its affiliates own and manage more than 14 million square feet of office, retail, residential and warehouse/distribution property in 15 states, according the group’s website. The properties include 11 million square feet in Greater New York.

“I thought he was a working man like the rest of us,” said Connie Itagliata, 79, of New Britain, a small working-class city near Hartford, who met Mr. Blumenthal at a senior center.

She said she had no idea about his family’s wealth but insists it doesn’t matter.

“No,” she said. “As attorney general, I thought he was great. So I figured if he’s working that hard as attorney general, he’ll be just as great as a senator.”

Mr. Blumenthal’s state and federal financial filings show that his wife and children receive income from the numerous Malkin real estate holdings and Malkin family investments and trusts. It also lists Mr. Blumenthal’s salary of $130,000 as attorney general. The couple’s 5,698-square-foot home in Greenwich, with an assessed value of $2.45 million in 2009, is listed on the state report as being held by the Abigail and John Trust.

The federal report shows Mr. Blumenthal has an interest in Blumenthal Oil & Gas LLC, which he inherited from his father, Martin, who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany at age 17 in 1935, barely speaking any English.

Mr. Blumenthal says it was his father who went on to build a successful commodities trading firm and his mother, a Nebraska farm girl, who taught him the value of helping and fighting for people.

“Together, their deeply shared belief was that we have an obligation to give back to this country that has given us so much. And that’s what I’ve tried to do with my life, is to give back, to work hard,” he told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “I have regarded the measure of my life as not how much money I make, but how many people I help.”

Mrs. McMahon publicly has questioned why Mr. Blumenthal hasn’t - like she has - spent more of his own money on the race, given his family’s wealth, and has criticized him for taking money from political action committees.

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