The details of Chris Dodd’s dealings keep coming, but not, of course, from the Senator himself who is as silent about his financial matters as Teddy Kennedy is about Chappaquiddick. Here’s the latest from the Hartford Courant.
It takes considerable political skill for a U.S. senator to win a presidential pardon for a friend without the traditional review by the Justice Department. Sen. Christopher Dodd moved the furtive levers of power in 2001 for Edward R. Downe, convicted of tax and securities fraud eight years before. A man will do a lot for a former real estate partner.
It was reported here two weeks ago that Downe’s real estate development partner, William “Bucky” Kessinger of Kansas City, Mo., purchased a 1,700-square-foot home in Ireland with Dodd in 1994 for $160,000. Downe’s name appeared on the transfer document filed in the Irish Land Registry as the witness to Kessinger’s signature. Kessinger owned two-thirds of the property, Dodd one-third.
Dodd’s spokesman told The Courant in 2001 that the senator and Downe, who pleaded guilty to insider trading in 1993, had been friends for many years. No one mentioned that Dodd and Downe together purchased a condominium in Washington, D.C., in 1986. Dodd bought Downe’s share 3 1/2 years later.
When Dodd owned a condominium with Downe in the 1980s, while Downe was carrying on his illegal stock scheme, no details of their arrangement were in the deed or mortgage filings.Who paid which expenses associated with owning the condominium didn’t fall into the public’s view. Neither did who used the condominium.It raises the prospect that a senator, working much of the time in Washington, could have had his living expenses subsidized when the senator owned that real estate with a rich New York socialite. Even members of the smart set can be in only one place at a time. Downe already had homes in some of the nation’s finest neighborhoods when he bought the D.C. condominium with Dodd, who used to be called, but no more, one of the poorest members of the Senate.
Dodd was never required to name Kessinger (on Senate disclosures) as the co-owner of their house on 10 acres of waterfront property on the west coast of Ireland for the eight years they owned it together. As with the condominium, the public doesn’t know who paid the expenses associated with it when Kessinger owned two-thirds of it.
Waterfront properties on the “Irish Riviera” don’t often come on the market. In today’s dire real estate market, a 750-square-foot, two-bedroom townhouse in nearby Roundstone is for sale for $750,000. A 900-square foot, three-bedroom semi-detached house, boasting of a view of Inishnee, the island where Dodd’s house stands high above Bertaghboy Bay, is offered for $700,000.
Dodd said through a spokesman two weeks ago that the price he paid Kessinger — $122,351, according to the Land Registry, for his two-thirds share in 2002 — was based on an appraisal. He hasn’t released it.
A presidential pardon is a rare possession, especially when the man pardoned, Downe, still owed millions to the Securities and Exchange Commission for his violations.
Rarer still, however, is the real estate developer, like Kessinger, who appears to have left hundreds of thousands of dollars in appreciated value on the table for his minority-share partner. Dodd appears to have latched onto one — and, on paper, has turned a profit like the Wall Street pirates he once loved but now disdains.