Half-sister of Cindy McCain says she feels excluded, angry
NEW ORLEANS – A half-sister of Cindy McCain has emerged to speak in an interview with National Public Radio, complaining that she feels hurt when she hears the wife of Republican Sen. John McCain describe herself as an only child.
Cindy McCain’s father was the late Jim Hensley, founder of the Hensley & Co. beer distributorship, from his second marriage, while her half-sister Kathleen Portalski was Hensley’s daughter from his first marriage, NPR said in the exclusive report that aired on Monday.
Portalski, 65, is retired and lives in Phoenix.
Her son Nicholas Portalski contacted NPR after hearing the radio station’s profile of Cindy McCain last week that described her as an only child.
Cindy McCain often calls herself an only child and has been described as such in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Newsweek and ABC, NPR said.
“I’m upset,” Kathleen Portalski said in the interview with NPR correspondent Ted Robbins. “I’m angry. It makes me feel like a nonperson, kind of.”
Portalski said she saw her father a few times a year, such as Christmas and birthdays, and that he gave her money for school clothes. He also provided money for college tuition to his grandchildren and left Portalski $10,000 in his will when he died in 2000, NPR said.
The Portalskis say they were disappointed when Cindy McCain inherited the bulk of her father’s fortune. She now serves as chairman of Hensley & Company, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation.
Portalski’s son said the family came forward because “we’ve never been recognized, and then Cindy has to put such a fine point on it by saying something that’s not true.”
“It’s just very, very hurtful,” he said.
Hensley was still married to his first wife when he met Marguerite Smith, who would become his second wife and Cindy McCain’s mother, NPR said.
Hensley divorced his first wife and married Smith in 1945, NPR said. Cindy McCain was born in 1954.
Kathleen Portalski told NPR she would like an acknowledgment and an apology.
NPR asked the McCain campaign and Cindy McCain to comment but said neither responded to its requests.
The Portalskis also told NPR they are Democrats.
Photo credit: Reuters/Chris Keane (Cindy McCain)