I saw our AG jogging up Clapboard Ridge this morning and, eschewing the chance to change the course of history, I kept my wheels straight. The man’s no Arch Duke Ferdinand and I’m no anarchist (on my better-behaved days). But I did wonder whether I was passing the next senator from our Nutmeg state, especially in light of the current occupant of that post’s continued difficulties with acknowledging and dealing with his crooked ways. I’ve ranted on this blog for months about Dodd’s shady purchase of his Irish cottage and that story, as well as his under-the-table dealings with Countrywide Mortgage, keeps getting worse. Here’s the latest from the Hartford Current.
The Los Angeles Times published a blunt analysis of the dense legal minefield around Mozilo. It must have made for chilling reading inside Dodd’s fortress. The Times reported “an FBIinvestigation includes a probe of his company’s role in an influence-peddling scandal involving U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).”
The Friends of Angelo sweetheart deals have attracted the attention of prosecutors in Los Angeles and officials at the Justice Department in Washington. A lawyer familiar with the investigation of the Friends of Angelo scheme told the Times “the Justice Department appeared to be investigating whether the program amounted to improper influence-peddling by Countrywide and whether the politicians had failed to publicly report favors from Mozilo.”
The Times suggests a familiar way out for the beleaguered Mozilo: trade testimony about the Friends of Angelo for a deal with prosecutors and other authorities.
With the political atmosphere heavy with suspicion, Dodd obtained a new appraisal on his 10-acre waterfront home in Ireland after the unusual circumstances around his ownership of it were raised in this column in February.
Dodd said Friday that a recent appraisal puts the value of the Irish Shangri-La at $658,000. That value is more than two years into the historic crash of the Irish real estate market. The maximum value of $250,000 that Dodd has been reporting each year in his Senate disclosure since 2002 — when he bought the two-thirds interest of his partner in the property, Kansas City, Mo., real estate developer William Kessinger — was seriously and repeatedly understated.
In 2002, the property was likely worth at least as much or possibly more than it is today. Dodd’s office said in February that in 2002 he paid Kessinger, the friend and business associate of boulevardier and convicted insider trader Edward Downe, for whom Dodd secured a presidential pardon in 2001, $127,000 for his interest in the property. In March, he raised that by $50,000 in an interview with reporters from The Courant.
Last month, Dodd told Newsweek he paid Kessinger $207,000. While Dodd continues to revise the details of that 2002 deal, an immutable, nagging fact remains: Dodd appears to have received from Kessinger a gift of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which he never reported, in the year after Dodd obtained a presidential pardon for their friend Downe.
Documents Dodd signed and filed with the Land Registry in Ireland at the time of the 2002 transaction state the “consideration”— payment — for Kessinger’s share of the property was $122,351. Friday’s confirmation of the value of property in Ireland, which Dodd has sought to downplay, raises more serious questions about how Dodd has used his office.
There are stories of Dodd’s more carefree bachelor days when he and his pal Teddy Kennedy would head south to the Caribbean with a posse of hookers, charter a yacht and head ten miles offshore to party the week away while staffers, assigned to smaller craft, kept their distance and continued their work. Someone should be able to find a former Dodd staff member to confirm this – the resentment and hatred of their boss is still palpable.
But aside from Dodd’s taste in entertainment, I’d like to know who paid for these excursions? I have, in my various careers, occasionally made more than a U.S. Senator is paid yet I’ve never been able to afford a motor yacht charter in the Caribbean for my family, let alone paid companions and a flotilla of staff workers astern.