If you’ve been thinking of buying a quaint little retreat near Galway, Ireland, you might want to ask Chris Dodd for advice. He’s made off quite well on his (pictured).

Here’s the quick-and-dirty: find a convicted felon and get him to put up two-thirds of the purchase price, then 8 years later – when the value of comparable real estate has quadrupled – buy him out at around the same amount he bought in for.

Voila! Before you know it, you own an Irish ‘cottage’ worth about a million dollars, but whose value you claim on ethics forms is as little as $100,000! The Wall Street Journal reported on the specifics not that long ago:

The story starts in 1994, when the Senator became one-third owner of a 10-acre estate, then valued at $160,000, on the island of Inishnee on Galway Bay. The property is near the fashionable village of Roundstone, a well-known celebrity haunt. William Kessinger bought the other two-thirds share in the estate. Edward Downe, Jr., who has been a business partner of Mr. Kessinger, signed the deed as a witness. Senator Dodd and Mr. Downe are long-time friends, and in 1986 they had purchased a condominium together in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Downe is also quite the character. The year before the Galway deal, in 1993, he pleaded guilty to insider trading and securities fraud and in 1994 agreed to pay the SEC $11 million in a civil settlement. The crimes were felonies and in 2001, as President Clinton was getting ready to leave office, Mr. Dodd successfully lobbied the White House for a full pardon for Mr. Downe.

The next year — according to a transfer document at the Irish land registry viewed by Mr. Rennie — Mr. Kessinger sold his two-thirds share to Mr. Dodd for $122,351. The Senator says he actually paid Mr. Kessinger $127,000, which he claims was based on an appraisal at the time. That means, at best, poor Mr. Kessinger earned less than 19% over eight years on the sale of his two-thirds share to Mr. Dodd. But according to Ireland’s Central Bank, prices of existing homes in Ireland quadrupled from 1994 to 2004.

Perhaps Mr. Kessinger is a lousy businessman. Or maybe he merely relied on Mr. Dodd to tell him how much the property was worth. In his Senate financial disclosure documents from 2002-2007, Mr. Dodd reported that the Galway home was worth between $100,001 and $250,000. However, Mr. Rennie reports that in 2006 and 2007 the Senator added a footnote that reads: “value based on appraisal at time of purchase.”

I have an idea. I’ve always loved Ireland, and would love to have a quaint little cottage like Dodd’s – even if it is kind of meager and rundown. If I can get a few other Red Staters to go in with me, maybe we can pool together enough money to buy Dodd’s place. Given his estimate of the value, $300K or so ought to be plenty. Dodd’s obviously a shrewd, shrewd businessman – you can tell by how well he’s done on all his real estate deals. There’s no way he could turn down an offer well over what he claims it’s worth, right?

And if you have a criminal record, that’s even better. Democrats seem to like investing with criminals.