August 18, 2008
Anna Christopher, NPR
CINDY MCCAIN’S HALF SISTER COMES FORWARD,
TALKS ABOUT THEIR ESTRANGED RELATIONSHIP
AND BEING IGNORED BY THE MEDIA
KATHLEEN PORTALSKI TO NPR:
“I’M ANGRY. IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A NON-PERSON.”
INTERVIEW AIRING ON ALL THINGS CONSIDERED;
COMPLETE STORY AT www.NPR.org
August 18, 2008; Washington, D.C. – In an exclusive interview with NPR News, Cindy McCain’s older half sister, Kathleen Hensley Portalski, talks about their estranged relationship, and the difficulty she has when she hears McCain described as an “only child” by the media, and by McCain herself. The complete interview and report from NPR’s Southwest Correspondent Ted Robbins is airing tonight on NPR News’ All Things Considered. A Web story is available at: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93708729
In a profile of Cindy McCain last week, NPR incorrectly reported that she is the only child of the late Jim Hensley, founder of the Hensley and Co. beer distributorship which McCain now chairs. Portalski, who is now retired and lives in Phoenix, is Jim Hensley’s daughter from his first marriage, and was born in 1943. Cindy McCain’s mother, Marguerite Hensley, also had a daughter from her first marriage.
NPR’s Robbins reports that Cindy McCain often refers to herself as an only child, as she did on CNN last month: “I grew up with my dad. I’m an only child. My father was a cowboy and he really loved me very much, but I think he wanted a son occasionally.” Portalski tells NPR: “I’m upset. I’m angry. It makes me feel like a non-person, kind of.”
Of her relationship with her late father, Portalski says: “I saw him a few times a year. I saw him at Christmas and birthdays, and he provided money for school clothes and he called occasionally.” NPR reports that Jim Hensley provided credit cards and college tuition to his grandchildren, and $10,000 gifts to Portalski and her husband. When Jim Hensley died in 2000, Portalski was named in his will, and she was left $10,000.
Portalski’s son, Nicholas Portalski, describes why the family decided to come forward: “I think the fact that we don't exist. The fact that we've never been recognized, and then Cindy has to put such a fine point on it by saying something that's not true. Recently. Again and again. It's just very, very hurtful.”
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