Even for those of us whose Double Standard Paranoia Quotient, after all these years, has been raised far above the threshold of pain, the slack being cut for Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is hard to take.
Although the latest development is, technically, tangential to the Senator’s hinky dealings and his on-going refusal to release the presumably compromising documents he promised to make public more than a year ago, sometimes it’s the icing on the cake that highlights the decay inside.
Senator Dodd’s mistake was not fessing up at the get go and admitting that (like his Senate colleague Kent Conrad and many others, including Richard Holbrooke) he got a sweetheart deal on loans from the VIP program set up for precisely that purpose by his friend at the top of Countrywide Financial. Senator Conrad appears to have decided that discretion is the better part of survival and has been keeping his head down hoping the whole thing will eventually blow over.
But Senator Dodd has gone on the offensive, denying everything, promising transparency, and shamelessly positioning himself as the paladin of the solution rather than part of the problem.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has been one of very few voices speaking inconvenient truth to entrenched power, and today’s editorial expresses an accumulated indignation and frustration. Read it and weep:
If you think Senator Chris Dodd was friendly with former Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo, check out the bond the Connecticut lawmaker enjoys with Richard Blumenthal, the state’s attorney general. While Mr. Dodd refuses to make public the details of his sweetheart loans from Countrywide, the state’s chief lawyer not only won’t investigate; he has taken to the airwaves to proclaim Mr. Dodd’s innocence and even predict his re-election in 2010.
Inappropriate doesn’t begin to describe Mr. Blumenthal’s appearance this week on Hartford’s WFSB-TV. The AG compared Mr. Dodd, who was due to receive an estimated savings of $75,000 over the life of his two VIP mortgage loans, to borrowers allegedly duped by unscrupulous lenders. Mr. Blumenthal claimed that “there’s no evidence of wrongdoing on [Mr. Dodd's] part any more than victims who were misled or deceived by Countrywide.”
Portraying Mr. Dodd as a victim for receiving two below-market loans appeared to be too much for WFSB anchor Dennis House. He asked Mr. Blumenthal if he would accept Countrywide telling him that he could see some documents for a short time but not make any copies, as Mr. Dodd recently did with selected reporters. Mr. Blumenthal replied that he subpoenas documents from companies like Countrywide, instead of accepting their representations.
It’s interesting that the state’s top lawyer can pronounce that there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Dodd, especially since Mr. Blumenthal told us this week that he has never investigated Dodd’s Countrywide deals. According to Mr. Blumenthal, the case is out of his jurisdiction because Mr. Dodd holds a federal office and any possible offenses would be federal. Mr. Blumenthal prosecutes civil matters while Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney, Kevin Kane, oversees criminal prosecutions. Mr. Kane’s office also tells us that Connecticut’s senior Senator is out of its jurisdiction.
Mr. Blumenthal’s decision to stay out of the way of federal law enforcers contrasts with his approach when Republican Governor John Rowland and others were successfully prosecuted on federal corruption charges. In that case, Mr. Blumenthal was so zealous that in 2004 a state court judge temporarily blocked his civil suit after federal prosecutors claimed he was making it more difficult to prosecute the federal case.
Federal prosecutors aren’t commenting on any probe, if there is one. We can confirm that the Senate’s Ethics Committee investigation continues at whatever pace can be described as less than plodding.