Judicial Watch Files Senate Ethics Complaint against Senator Christopher Dodd
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it filed a complaint on April 24, 2009, with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd. The complaint alleges Dodd assisted a longtime friend and associate to obtain a reduced sentence and ultimately a full presidential pardon from President Clinton for tax and securities crimes, in exchange for gifts, including a sweetheart mortgage deal that he failed to properly disclose on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. According to Judicial Watch’s complaint:
This complaint concerns recent media reports alleging Senator Christopher Dodd used his position and influence as a United States Senator to intervene on behalf of his longtime friend and business associate, Edward Downe, Jr. Senator Dodd is then alleged to have benefited financially as a result of his intervention, and failed to disclose the financial benefits by filing inaccurate Senate Financial Disclosure Statements from 2002 through at least 2007.
Judicial Watch’s complaint alleges that Senator Dodd appeared at a hearing on behalf of Edward Downe, Jr. in 1993 to help Downe obtain a reduced sentence for violations involving tax and securities laws. In 2001, Dodd ultimately helped Downe secure a full presidential pardon for his crimes on President Clinton’s last day in office bypassing the normal pardon vetting process. In 2002, Dodd allegedly received a significantly reduced, below-market sales price, for a two-thirds interest in a property located in County Galway, Ireland, from Downe’s associate, William Kessinger. (Dodd already owned a one-third interest in the property.) Downe’s signature appears on the property transfer documents. He is listed as a witness.
(Judicial Watch has sought additional documents about this property from government authorities in Ireland.)
According to the complaint, Senator Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, allegedly failed to report the gift in 2002 and may have filed inaccurate Senate Financial Disclosure forms related to the property ever since, in violation of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The penalty for filing false financial disclosure forms is $50,000 and up to one year in prison.
"This seems a straight-up quid pro quo. Dodd helped his apparently crooked friend and seems to have received a cut-rate real estate deal on a property in Ireland in exchange. Moreover, it appears Dodd attempted to cover up the gift by failing to disclose it on his financial disclosure forms. To put it mildly, this type of behavior clearly does not reflect well on the United States Senate. We hope the Senate Ethics Committee does a thorough and speedy investigation. Federal prosecutors also need to take a look at this, as knowingly filing false financial forms is a crime," stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
In 2008, Senator Dodd came under fire for receiving preferential loan terms from Countrywide Financial as a member of the company’s "VIP Program."