Sen. Christopher Dodd (D.-Conn.) is being harshly criticized in his home state for a sweetheart mortgage deal he was given by Countrywide Financial and played dumb about and his role in the AIG bonus debacle. Here are excerpts from various major Connecticut newspapers’ editorials about the state’s senior senator.
New Haven Register
“We’re not going to mince words. Chris Dodd is a lying weasel. It is hard enough to swallow that the senator had no idea that he got preferential treatment on his home mortgages that saved him thousands of dollars. Or that, simply out of friendship, a wealthy New York man, who was later convicted in a huge stock swindle, picked up much of the cost of a condo Dodd bought in Washington, or that the stock swindler’s business partner out of a love of Ireland did the same for Dodd when the senator bought a waterfront house in Ireland.
“Now, Dodd flat-out has lied about his role in legislation that is allowing employees of American International Group to receive $400 million in bonuses despite receiving $173 billion in taxpayer money to keep the failed financial giant alive…
“Dodd claims he was unaware of the AIG bonuses when he changed the language of his amendment to allow them. Dodd, however, is more than familiar with AIG. Its Financial Products unit, which helped drive AIG to the brink of bankruptcy, has headquarters in Wilton. As a member and now chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over AIG’s industry, Dodd has received more campaign money, $281,038, from AIG than any other member of Congress.
“Dodd’s lie about the bonus loophole should haunt him next year when he seeks re-election. He has broken a bond with voters who expect honesty from their elected officials.”
The Register Citizen,
“U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd is in trouble and it keeps getting worse. The five-term incumbent is up for re-election next year and he is so unpopular that a Quinnipiac University survey found that if the 2010 election were today, he would narrowly lose to former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons[R.]
“The election, of course, isn’t until next year. Dodd is a skilled politician who has time to repair the damage. His 28 years in the Senate have given him enormous influence in Washington. But his long incumbency has left him distant from voters in his home state—so distant that during his long-shot bid for the presidency, he moved to Iowa and enrolled his children in school there prior to that state’s nominating caucuses. As chairman and former ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Dodd has been the target of voter unhappiness regarding the bailout of Wall Street and the inadequacy of financial regulations.
“That unhappiness crystallized into anger after it was revealed Dodd received preferential treatment from Countrywide Financial, a major lender of subprime mortgages, on two mortgages that may have saved him $70,000 over the life of the loans. Dodd has yet to fully disclose the mortgage documents. A publisher has backed out of a book deal with Dodd on the financial crisis after Dodd was ridiculed by Republicans for proposing a book about the meltdown for which they say he is partially responsible.…”
The Day of New London
“Sen. Chris Dodd has never been more politically vulnerable than he is today, and he knows it.…
“More alarming news came Dodd’s way this week when a Quinnipiac Poll showed [former 2nd District congressman Rob] Simmons leading Dodd 43% to 42% if the election were held today.…
“If Dodd is the candidate, and the Republicans field a quality opponent, a lot of money from the Republican National Committee and Republican political action committees will pour into Connecticut.…
“The problem for Dodd is that little is likely to happen before the next election cycle that can repair the damage he has suffered. Dodd was chairman of the banking committee when banks were melting down. He downplayed the troubles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, making him look out of touch when the federal government later had to bail out the two government-backed mortgage behemoths.
“Making things look worse, Dodd was the biggest recipient of donations flowing from Fannie and Freddie employees and political action committees, according to OpenSecrets.org.…”
Connecticut Post (Bridgeport)
“Can anyone really trust what U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd says anymore?
“The latest reversal of story from Connecticut’s senior senator on the AIG bonus controversy — all within 24 hours, no less — shreds his credibility.
“In his latest flip-flop, Dodd on Tuesday told CNN that he was not a member of the conference committee that drafted the compromise stimulus legislation that included a loophole that’s allowed AIG — which taxpayers rescued from the brink of insolvency with a $170 billion bailout — to pay out $165 million in employee bonuses.
“However, less than a day later Dodd was conceding that he had a hand in crafting the final compromise. In fact, that he, as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, was approached by Treasury officials to modify that section of the stimulus bill that capped bonuses at firms receiving federal aid.
“The senator’s explanation is disingenuous. We don’t buy Dodd’s trying to pass the entire issue off as little more than “some confusion” in trying to explain his case.
“The current AIG controversy is all too reminiscent of Dodd’s lack of frankness and candor during his prolonged refusal to disclose details of the refinancing of two mortgages with Countrywide Financial. While he was publicly railing about abuses in the mortgage industry, he was also receiving preferential loan treatment from Countrywide and keeping it secret, although it was eventually publicly disclosed.…
“Connecticut deserves better from its senior senator. Through the years he’s done good work for this state’s citizens, but his recent lack of candor on key issues is destroying that reputation.”
“Connecticut’s senior U.S. senator dealt his 2010 re-election prospects another blow this past week when he changed his story about his role in the outrageous bonuses paid to executives of AIG after it was given more than $170 billion in federal aid to keep from collapsing.
“It was the latest in a series of gaffes that are making some constituents question Sen. Christopher J. Dodd’s candidacy for a sixth term.”
“It started with public irritation over his failed presidential campaign last year and unsatisfactory answers he gave to questions about a favorable mortgage deal he got on residences in East Haddam and Washington, D.C., from the mortgage giant Countrywide Financial, which came under his regulatory sway on the Senate banking committee.
“But Mr. Dodd’s flip-flop this past week on whether he played a part in protecting the bonuses paid to AIG executives who almost caused the insurance colossus to fail could be his undoing. Public outrage over the $165 million or more in bonuses paid to these badly performing executives is palpable. …
“People are suspicious because Mr. Dodd has been the No.1 recipient of campaign cash from employees and political action committees related to AIG over the past two decades. …
“Whether fair to Mr. Dodd or not, this is an issue — the appearance of favoritism toward a big campaign contributor — that isn’t likely to blow over.”