On Face the State Sunday, Chris Dodd talked with host Dennis House (who returned to Dodd's ethical problems repeatedly throughout the interview) about his relationship with his good friend Edward Downe, Jr. As you may recall, Downe was Dodd's real estate partner on a DC condo in the mid-80's, and he helped facilitate the partnership that resulted in his purchase eight years later of the now-infamous cottage in Ireland.
Oh yeah, he was also a felon, convicted of making millions by illegally trading stocks based on insider information. After pleading guilty, he paid a fine, was placed on probation and did some 3,000 hours of community service in the early nineties.
"I'm a great believer: You deplore the sin, embrace the sinner...I didn't walk away from my friend at a dark moment for him," Dodd said about Downe, seemingly expecting someone to come from off camera and present him with a plaque from Mr. Trophy recognizing him as Best Friend of the Year, 1993. Look, I get that they were friends, and I don't think that most people have too much of an issue with Dodd not abandoning the guy. But if you are a smart politician, or even just a smart person in general, it should occur to you that while you can still be his friend, it might not be wise to have him involved in your financial dealings, accept campaign contributions from him, or try to use your official position to benefit him.
But not Dodd. Not only did he stand by his man, he also got involved in a real estate deal with William Kessinger, someone Downe introduced him to. They had Downe sign some of the paperwork, and he continued taking Downe's campaign contributions. Then Dodd used his position as a U.S. Senator to pressure outgoing-President Clinton into giving Downe a pardon, apparently because he was sorry and was fortunate enough to be friends with a senator. The controversial pardon was granted on Clinton's last day in office.
Soon after getting the pardon, Dodd buys up Kessinger's share of the Irish cottage for barely more than it was worth when they purchased it nearly a decade earlier, despite the rapidly rising real estate market across most of the country. Did he really think doing something like that wouldn't raise eyebrows, despite the "independent appraisal" he is relying on?
Well, it has raised eyebrows, and it does not appear to be going away. Kevin Rennie has been all over it for some time now, and this week even the Courant's news reporters thought it might be worth an article. The Wall Street Journal has noticed, as well, and they're not buying it across the pond, either.
Rob Simmons has already given indications that shady real estate deals and sweetheart mortgages will be issues during his campaign against Dodd, and there is little doubt that we will be hearing about them from anyone who throws their hat in the ring. And we should.
Cross-posted at The Artful Doddger.