Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau, writing for the Swamp, reports on a half-sister of Cindy McCain whose existence Cindy McCain regularly denies when she tells the media that she is "an only child."
In the interview airing on NPR's All Things Considered, 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,'' NPR reports of the talk with Southwest Correspondent Ted Robbins.
Kathleen Portalksi, retired now in Phoenix, was born in 1943, a child of the late Jim Hensley's first marriage, the network says, reporting that his second wife, Marguerite, also had a daughter from her first marriage. Cindy Hensley was McCain's second wife as well - he had a daughter with his first wife and adopted her two sons, and has had three children with his second wife and adopted an orphan from Bangladesh.
NPR's Robbins notes 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."
And that's true: She was the only child in her family.
Yet, 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."
Documents show Kathleen Anne Hensley was born to Jim and Mary Jeanne Hensley on Feb. 23, 1943. They had been married for six years when Kathleen was born. He flew as a bombardier on a B-17 during World War II. He was injured and sent to a facility in West Virginia to recuperate. During that time, NPR reports, while still married to Mary Jeanne, Hensley met another woman -- Marguerite Smith. He divorced Mary Jeanne and married Marguerite in 1945. Cindy Lou Hensley was born nine years later, in 1954.
Jim Hensley, who founded one of the nation's largest beer distributorships in Phoenix, provided credit cards and college tuition to his grandchildren, and $10,000 gifts to Portalski and her husband, NPR reports. When Jim Hensley died in 2000, Portalski was named in his will, and she was left $10,000. Cindy McCain inherited his fortune and is chairman of the board of Hensley and Co.
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." The Swamp