US Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut may have lowballed the value of a vacation property he acquired in a sweetheart deal in Ireland.For the most part the Washington press corps have little interest in Dodd's dubious finances, although some media outlets have questions.
According to the Democrat's latest financial disclosures, obtained by The Post, Dodd claims his three-bedroom cottage on 10 acres with breathtaking views of the Atlantic is worth $638,000.
This figure falls far short of property values on Inishnee Island, where The Post discovered Dodd's next-door neighbor was selling a much smaller property for $1.2 million.
Although Evelyn O'Neill's cottage is slightly larger than Dodd's, with one more bedroom, it sits on only one quarter-acre, she told The Post.
Matt O'Sullivan Auctioneers, a real-estate firm, is handling the sale of O'Neill's property. Matt O'Sullivan said he appraised Dodd's cottage at $638,000 two months ago but refused to answer any further questions.
"Dodd continues to mislead people about the value of his Irish property," charged Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch, a Washington, DC-based ethics watchdog.
But a spokesman for Dodd said that the O'Neill cottage is the one that is overpriced.
"The value of the other property you reference is not comparable to the appraised value of the Dodds' cottage. According to the listed real-estate agent, the other property's estimated value is based solely on the owner's asking price, not an appraisal," Bryan DeAngelis said.
In April, Judicial Watch filed a complaint regarding the cottage with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which is already investigating him for sweetheart mortgage loans he received.
Dodd purchased a one-third interest in the Irish property in 1994 with Kansas businessman William Kessinger for $160,000.
Kessinger was a business partner of disgraced Bear Stearns principal Edward Downe Jr., a longtime friend of Dodd. In 1993, Downe pleaded guilty to insider trading and securities fraud but was pardoned, at Dodd's urging, by then-President Bill Clinton in 2001.
A year later, Dodd bought out Kessinger's share in the cottage for a paltry $127,000.
Dodd is part of a culture in the Congress that sees nothing wrong with taking money from institutions they're supposed to oversee, in his case, firms like Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG, the late Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and many others. That may still work if you're watching over the Rules, Small Business or the District of Columbia committees, but the financial institutions Dodd's banking committee supposedly regulates have caused the collapse of the economy and no one has taken more money from them than the senior senator from Connecticut.Let's all hope it's anyone but Dodd. Just imagine granting this thug another six years in the Senate.
The day after Dodd offered reporters a quick peek at the mortgage papers he'd been hiding for months, a research group that keeps track of big money in politics revealed that he's by far the favorite congressmen of the financial entities that received some of that first $700 billion government bailout, the one that hasn't worked very well.
The Center for Responsive Politics reported that the firms getting the bailout invested $114 million in lobbying and contributing to members of Congress during the 2008 election cycle. The recipients of contributions from the 161 companies that have received Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money “are the same members of Congress who chair committees charged with regulating the financial sector and overseeing the effectiveness of this unprecedented government program,” said the Center report.
And, of course, the number one beneficiary of contributions from these companies was Dodd. The senator received a very nice $854,200 from the TARP gang in the 2008 election cycle, when he ever so briefly ran for president. Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wasn't even a close second with $279,000 from the soon to be failed businesses.
The new secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner said these companies won't be allowed to lobby the federal government while they have TARP money, but whether or not they will be able to continue to enrich Sen. Dodd with campaign contributions isn't clear.
After all - wink, wink - it isn't the companies giving all those dollars to Dodd and his colleagues, it's the firms' employees getting together in the company cafeteria to raise a bundle for their political heroes. You may have forgotten it is technically illegal for labor unions and companies to finance political campaigns. That's why they have their members' and employees' Political Action Committees pick their favorite candidates, who, coincidentally, are always the company's or the union's favorites too.
In 2010, a worthy opponent will demand to know why it took so long for Chairman Dodd to recognize that lending institutions were approving mortgages doomed to be foreclosed or why he insisted that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were “fundamentally sound” when they were on the verge of collapse. Freddie and Fannie gave more campaign money to Dodd than to any other member of Congress.
Depending on the state of the economy, Dodd will, at best, be vulnerable for the first time in his Senate career or already toast in 2010. As a result, the Republican Party, with the right kind of candidate, a moderate, centrist type, could find itself in the novel position of actually having a chance to elect a Connecticut senator for the first time in 28 years.
Meanwhile, the folks at Dump Dodd had a little fun last Sunday.
Instapundit links. Thanks!