Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Like Father Like Son: Dodd is Unbecoming a Senator

Looks like Chris Dodd is in heap big trouble. So may be Kent Conrad. Why? Someone at Countrywide is talking, and they are saying Dodd and Conrad KNOWINGLY TOOK sweetheart deals that no one else could get for mortgages, etc. Is this illegal? No. Is it unethical? Absolutely. While Dodd maintains he didn't know, there is mounting evidence to the contrary that could link he and his father. His father was censured by the Senate for conduct unbecoming a Senator. Both Conrad and Dodd face Senate Ethics Committee hearing where the committee could vote to do nothing, censure, or expel a Senator. It is doubtful they will vote to expel, but censure is a real possibility, thanks to one Mr. Feinberg:
The Senate ethics committee has interviewed a former Countrywide Financial executive who testified under oath that Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) were aware that they were accessing a special program to give below-market-rate mortgages to the powerful and famous when he arranged their loans, according to the executive's attorneys.

The statements from Robert Feinberg, who worked as a loan officer at the mortgage lender, stand in direct contradiction to statements made by Dodd and Conrad, who maintain that they did not know they were part of the Countrywide program created by its chief executive at the time, Angelo Mozilo.

"He always made a big deal about them being in the VIP program. Does he remember the exact words he spoke with Conrad and Dodd? No, but he always made it clear," said Elana Goldstein, one of Feinberg's attorneys.

Feinberg testified for several hours before the ethics committee on June 23. Questioning him were Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ranking Republican Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho). Dodd and Conrad responded to questions from the committee last year.

Looks like the Dodd apple doesn't fall far from the tree...from Wiki:
In 1967 Dodd became the first Senator censured by the US Senate since Joseph McCarthy in 1954,[19] and was one of only six people censured by the Senate in the 20th century. The censure was a condemnation and finding that he had converted campaign funds to his personal accounts and spent the money.[20][21] Beyond the Senate Ethics Committee's formal disciplinary action, other sources (such as investigative journalist Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson's Congress in Crisis) suggest[22] Dodd's corruption was far broader in scope and there were accusations of alcoholism

Gee, Chris, shouldn't you have learned not to be shady by Daddy's experience? Or did you just learn how to do it slicker? Apparently, neither lesson was fully learned.

This is not translating well for 2010 for Hair Helmet Dodd:
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) continues to trail former Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons by a margin of 48 percent to 39 percent (AP). Although Dodd’s approval ratings remain in the negative, his numbers have improved slightly since the last Quinnipaic poll, May 27.
In the poll, 42 percent stated that they approve of Dodd’s service (when in May, the number was a 38 percent approval rating), and 52 percent said they disapprove of Dodd (when previously, 53 percent disapproved). Also, as only 37 percent of those surveyed in May had a positive opinion of Dodd, 40 percent in the new poll approved of the senator (AP).
However, the poll also showed that only 35 percent of residents find that the embattled senator is honest and trustworthy, a number unchanged from the May survey.

And we also have this:
Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is still denying getting special treatment when he applied for a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. But a transcript of secret congressional testimony says otherwise.

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is once again denying he received special treatment when he refinanced two mortgages with Countrywide Financial. According to the Associated Press an executive with the company told House investigators that Dodd was told he was on a special list of "friends" of Countrywide's chief executive.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut: I would never, have never taken a sweetheart deal from any lending institution. The rates that we received when we refinanced the house in Connecticut and my home here in Washington were rates that were readily available in the general marketplace.

Dodd was already in trouble in the polls as this latest news hit. Results released last week show him trailing his Republican rivals by a wide margin. Despite receiving the endorsement of his own party for re-election at least one Democrat says its time for a change. Merrick Alpert is a 42-year-old native of Colchester. The Georgetown Law School graduate and veteran of 6 years in the military is a successful businessman who is trying to force Dodd into a primary. He says the party endorsement does not reflect to mood of most democrats.

And just when these numbers were kind of stabilizing for Dodd, we find more scandal afoot:
As Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut assumes a central role in the debate over health care, the pharmaceutical industry has helped finance efforts to bolster his image back home as he braces for a potentially bruising re-election contest.

The industry’s campaign-style push for Mr. Dodd, part of a larger effort to highlight the work of certain lawmakers around the country, portray him as a defender of ordinary citizens in brochures sent to more than 100,000 homes in Connecticut and in a 30-second television spot that ran for three weeks.

For Mr. Dodd, the support provided by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the industry’s lobbying arm, comes at a politically sensitive, if not awkward, time. He is trying to combat a perception that he has become too close to powerful interest groups in Washington after 28 years in the Senate.

As part of that effort, Mr. Dodd’s own campaign has produced two videos, “Lobbyists Cry” and “The Blues,” presenting him as a politician who has caused grief for Washington lobbyists. He also sent a fund-raising solicitation asserting that lobbyists do not have access to him.

“The lobbyists can’t get meetings with Chris,” the solicitation says. “He won’t return their phone calls. He even yells at them during hearings.”

But even as Mr. Dodd attempts to distance himself from these special interests, he is clearly relying on their help as he prepares for his re-election, a reality seized upon by his Republican critics.

He has not only benefited from the hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertisement courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry and Families U.S.A., a health-care advocacy group the industry teamed up with. But a few weeks ago, Mr. Dodd attended a $1,500-a-plate campaign fund-raiser sponsored by lobbyists representing U.S. Oncology, a provider of cancer drugs and services.

Chris Dodd loves him some of that out of state lobbyist money:
Dodd was tapped by ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, to take over the panel in his absence as it tackled the sweeping health care overhaul.

Dodd led the committee in recent weeks as it hammered out a bill to expand insurance coverage to all Americans, becoming the first congressional panel to approve a health care reform plan.

More than a dozen health care lobbyists wrote him checks in the weeks before the panel began drafting its bill, Dodd's fundraising report for the second quarter that ended June 30 shows. Some of K Street's most prominent lobbyists ponied up.

The Glover Park Group's Joel Johnson and Susan Brophy each gave $1,000. The prominent firm with Democratic ties represents Pfizer Inc., WellPoint Inc., the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association and United Health Care Services, Inc.

Richard Tarplin, a former Dodd aide who is a health care lobbyist, gave $2,500.

Christopher R. O'Neill, the son of the late former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., gave $1,000. O'Neill's firm lobbies for the American Hospital Association, which paid them $50,000 during the second quarter. The firm also got $150,000 during the quarter from Partners HealthCare.

Anthony Podesta, one of Washington's best-known Democratic lobbyists, contributed $500. The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care paid Podesta's firm, the Podesta Group, $120,000 for the quarter.

Podesta's wife, Heather Podesta, hosted a $1,000 per person fundraiser in March for Dodd at the Podestas' home in the affluent Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington. Her firm, Heather Podesta + Partners, was paid $50,000 this year by HealthSouth Corp., one of the country's largest health care service providers.

Two lobbyists for U.S. Oncology, a leading oncology services company, hosted a $1,500 per person Dodd fundraiser in June. The event was sandwiched between a health panel session chaired by Dodd and a later White House event attended by Dodd.

All told, Dodd has collected $436,062 from lobbyists since 2005, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that tracks money in politics.

But he is in no lobbyists' pocket....RIGHT....