Tag Archives: Dodd’s Irish cottage

Will Dick Blumenthal be our next Senator?

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.


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Abby’s Irish Rose

Chris Dodd may need a case or two of the swill if he’s going to forget about his Irish cottage deal. I was screaming about this months ago but now the big boys have noticed (thanks to the Hartford Courant, who’s been on the story for some time). Today the Wall Street Journal weighs in. Like Rangel, Pelosi and maxine Waters, the Democrats aren’t going to do anything about Dodd but if the polls are right, Connecticut voters just might. Time to send this crook back home, where he can devote his time to looking for his father’s real killers.

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Chris Dodd, scoundrel

The Hartford Courant continues to bash our Senator Dodd for his repeated refusal to release loan documents showing the details of the sweetheart deal he received from Countrywide Mortgage, once a large contributor to his coffers.

Sen. Dodd:

Release The Documents • Connecticut deserves straight talk about your loans

U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd says he’s got nothing to hide. Yet for months he’s issued confusing and conflicting statements on whether he’ll publicly release documents relating to two loans he and his wife received from failed mortgage giant Countrywide Financial Corp.

He still hasn’t released them. On Jan. 23, Mr. Dodd was asked if he intends to await the conclusion of a Senate ethics inquiry before making the documents public. “Not necessarily,” he told a reporter for The Courant. “At some point soon we’ll do it.”

Mr. Dodd should have released the documents months ago. Countrywide was a major player in the subprime mortgage debacle. Five years ago, it issued the loans to Mr. Dodd, then a member of the Senate banking committee, as part of the company’s VIP program, trimming the upfront costs for refinancing two of the senator’s homes and allowing the rates to “float down” as interest rates dropped.

Countrywide collapsed last year and was acquired by Bank of America. Its failure sent shock waves through the economy and raised the question of why Congress didn’t act sooner to curb subprime lending by Countrywide and others. 

His continued waffling about whether or when he’ll release the documents only fans speculation. That’s a disservice to Mr. Dodd’s constituents, who deserve straight talk and accountability from the state’s senior senator.

That question becomes even more pointed when directed at Mr. Dodd — now chairman of the Senate’s banking committee — in light of his preferential treatment from Countrywide.

The Hartford Courant is taking the lead on this story, which makes sense, as the smarmy politician is from our state. But I wish the national press would realize that the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, at this time when all sorts of deals are being cut to bail out the very banks Dodd oversees, should be open and candid about favors he’s received from the industry in the past, particularly Countrywide. The New York Times joined the Courant in calling for release of the documents in this editorial published last October but since the election, I, at least, can find no further mention of the matter.

Dodd, of course, is no dummy. He’s betting that he can continue to stonewall because a Republican has no chance of evicting him from his seat next year and his fellow Democrats won’t dare go after a fellow Democrat with 28 years of accumulated favors to his credit. Charles Rangel has place the same bet, or hadn’t you noticed that the House panel that was supposed to be investigating Rangel’s tax fraud quietly disbanded after the election. Look, this shouldn’t be a partisan issue – there are crooks in both major political parties and I’d like to see them all driven from office. But the only party who can remove Dodd is his own, and it won’t do it. Without public pressure, which, so far, the Hartford Courant’s voice is insufficient to provide. 

Of course, if anyone would track down Dodd’s illegal financing of that vacation cottage in Ireland, progress might be made.

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