Even political groups get fanciful on St. Patrick’s Day, and the NRSC actually has a tie between Senator Chris Dodd and Ireland — namely, Dodd’s mansion in the Auld Country. The Republicans sense vulnerability in Connecticut, thanks to Dodd’s Friends of Angelo mortgages and his odd ability to buy estates in foreign countries:
It’s St. Patrick’s Day! And no one feels luckier than Christopher Dodd! Did you know he owns an estate among the shamrocks in Ireland? Connecticut must not be good enough for the ol’ lad.
The whole Dodd clan even moved to Iowa. Home sweet home! But not as sweet as his sweetheart mortgage deal from his friend Angelo Mozilo! How lucky!
Oh, but how unlucky his constituents in Connecticut are. No wonder his poll numbers are bottoming out…like a pint of Guinness! The Luck o’ the Dodd is running out!
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I suppose we can forgive the Lucky Charms accents and animation, in the service of this particular story. I do object to the notion of a pint of Guinness bottoming out. A pint of Guinness should never bottom out.
Glenn Reynolds has been covering the Irish estate story in detail. He had a link to this Times of London story over the weekend, which makes clear that it’s not just the kind of class-warfare issue that the NRSC hints about in this video:
Dodd bought a one-third share of a 10-acre property on the island of Inishnee, near Roundstone, in 1994 for $53,000 (about €41,000 at today’s rate). He is still a regular visitor there. William Kessinger, a business partner of Downe’s, purchased the remaining two-thirds for $107,000. Downe witnessed the transaction and signed the deed.
Questions have now been raised about Downe’s role, by both journalists and Republicans in Connecticut, the state Dodd represents. The year before Dodd bought the Galway property, Downe pleaded guilty to insider trading and agreed to pay the government $11m in a settlement. In 2001, near the end of Clinton’s term of office, Dodd successfully lobbied the White House for a pardon. Unusually, the pardon wasn’t first sanctioned by the US Department of Justice.
In 2002 Kessinger sold his two-thirds share of the property to Dodd for $127,000, a profit of only $20,000 from an eight-year period during which property prices doubled in Roundstone, a popular second-home location with rich Dubliners.
Dodd said the price agreed between himself and Kessinger was based on a “recent valuation”. In financial-disclosure documents after his outright purchase of the property, Dodd claimed that the 1,700 sq ft house and surrounding land was worth between $100,000 and $250,000. At the time, similar properties in Roundstone were selling for more than twice this figure.
Can you say “payoff”? That’s exactly what this looks like. Expect the NRSC to start hitting this harder and more specifically as 2009 moves towards 2010. In the meantime, Connecticut residents might consider giving Dodd the Irish blessing Go n-éirí an bothar leat — “May the road rise to meet you” — and add agus go luath … “and soon”.