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Ethics Panel Dismisses Complaints on Dodd, Conrad Mortgages

Updated 3:19 p.m.
By Ben Pershing
The Senate Ethics Committee on Friday dismissed complaints against Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for their participation in a "VIP" mortgage program with Countrywide Financial Corp. The panel informed the two senators that while it found "no substantial credible evidence" that their mortgage deals violated the chamber's ethics rules, they "should have exercised more vigilance in [their] dealings with Countrywide to avoid the appearance" that they were "receiving preferential treatment" because they are senators.

The Ethics Committee began its probe in June 2008 in response to complaints filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The complaints followed press reports that both Dodd and Conrad had received home loans through the "Friends of Angelo" program, named for Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, that provided discounts and improved service to select customers.

In its letters to Dodd and Conrad dismissing the complaints, the ethics panel said it had "treated this matter very seriously," reviewing more than 18,000 pages of documents and conducting "lengthy depositions with numerous former Countrywide employees." According to the letters, Conrad informed the panel that he knew he was in a VIP program but did not necessarily know what that meant, while Dodd told the committee he simply thought he was getting better service, rather than special mortgage terms.

The committee told both men that while they may not have violated Senate rules, the simple fact that they were in something called a VIP program "should have ... raised red flags for you." They should have "inquired very specifically" about how they got into the program and what it meant, the panel found.

In a statement released Friday, Dodd said he was "pleased and gratified" the complaint against him had been dismissed, and that the investigation proved the allegations against him "are and have always been false."

"But I will say this," Dodd added. "I understand that my reaction to those false allegations only served to foster cynicism. And that was my fault."

For his part, Conrad said the inquiry "confirms what I have said all along: I did not ask for or receive any preferential pricing on my loans. While I should have shown more vigilance in the appearance of these transactions, the committee has concluded I did nothing unethical, and that is the truth."

CREW was much less pleased by the dismissal of its complaints. "As is its practice, the Senate Ethics Committee has cleared the senators of any wrongdoing despite the fact that the senators participated in a program the committee found 'offered quicker, more efficient loan processing and some discounts,'" complained CREW executive director Melanie Sloan. She also mocked the committee for suggesting that its own lack of guidance to senators on mortgage issues may have sown confusion, "like a battered woman who explains she brought the beating on herself."

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has also been probing the Countrywide program, and a former Countrywide official reportedly told GOP panel investigators that Dodd and Conrad both knew they were getting preferential loan terms from the start, even though both men have denied that.

Dodd is in the midst of a difficult reelection race, and the Countrywide scandal has contributed to an erosion of his poll numbers in Connecticut.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 7, 2009; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Campaign , Ethics and Rules , Senate  
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So two democrat sleazeballs walk. What's next, and outstanding citizen award for tax cheat Rangel?

Amazing how much these corrupt A hole democrats can get away with.
Now, they're purchasing their own jets(at Pentagon expense) so they can take more trips at our expense.

Even the mindless class envy retards will be waking up soon and realize they've been had again by incompetent Obama and his corrupt party.

Pure pieces of feces, these democrat crooks.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

So now who investigates the ethics panel?

Posted by: dnha | August 7, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

And so they release this news item on a Friday, the day after the Senate adjourns.

Who is the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee? Barbara Boxer?

2010 ought to be very, very bad for incumbents. Especially Democrats, because of crud like this.

Posted by: DagnyT | August 7, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

This comes as no suprise. The criminals are running the country, running it down and out.
When is enough of this criminality going to be enough? Get rid of all of them. Americans need to wake up, so much being ruled "not enough evidence"....we have a blind government.
Actually, we have a criminal government and something has to be done.
Justice under Obama is blind, as long as you are one of his!
Shame on them, how do they sleep at night?
Oh, of course, no morals, scruples or ethics!

Posted by: canyon2 | August 7, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Is it any wonder the taxpayers are fed up with our leaders? These peole are supposed to be the brightest and best among us. When Dodd and Conrad plead ignorance, that is too much. Make a mistake on your income tax and see how far you get with an excuse like that! I can't wait to hear Charlie Raangel's excuses when he is cleared of his ethics charges. Why bother going through all this if all they get is a slap on the wrist. Disgusting!!!!

Posted by: saelij | August 7, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

We need a better system of ferreting out corrupt politicians in congress.

Congressmen investigating other congressmen isn't really that honorable.

When Obama leaves office, perhaps the next President will work with the legislative branch to establish an honest Office of Political Corruption.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | August 7, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

To use the word "ethics" and "senate" in the same breath is an oxymoron. Take away "oxy" and what you have left is "Moron(ic)" to describe this body. Chris Dodd knew exactly what he was doing. So did the other senator. For the senate to say no ethics were violated insults the intelligence of the voters. Can't wait for Dodd to retire to his $3,000,000 cottage (compliments of Countrywide) in Ireland. They can have him and the 12 others who are under investigation. As a matter of fact, every so-called "lawmaker" should be indicted for crimes against the American people.

Posted by: marine2211 | August 7, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Senators investigating a powerful Senator, that is JOKE !!!! An independent non-political investigating body should have done that job and maybe the outcome would have been different.

Posted by: jk330 | August 7, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The Code of the Underworld is to "take care of your own." This is like the fox watching the henhouse. I call for an independent counsel to investigate this alleged crookedness....

Posted by: DL13 | August 7, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course they cleared him.

They are the same kind of crooked politician he is.

Posted by: pga99 | August 7, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This was trivial. Let's hope the Justice Department now goes after the real criminals, Bush, Cheney, and Rove among others.

Posted by: RobRoy1 | August 7, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the culture of corruption, crooked Democrat Senators clear two crroked Democrat senators who were instrumentaal in blocking reforms restricting the sub-prime lending industry. It goes with out saying that the knuckle-draggers who falsely bray about Bush and Cheney being criminals willprobably ignore corruption by the Dems, and some idiot will probably call this "trivial".
(For the record: Bush and Cheney broke no laws, they always acted with Congressional approval, and nobody "lied", so get over it.)

Posted by: MARKM2 | August 7, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Why is this no surprise? One hand washes the other. Cover-ups are not uncommon. My mother used to say "show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are". Thief's covering for each other.

Posted by: MOMLEE | August 7, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Barack Obama's campaign finance chairwoman was the head of a sub-prime lending company, and Hillary's staff included Countrywide execs. Oh yeah, I forgot, they were Dems.

Posted by: MARKM2 | August 7, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious. They should have been more careful to "avoid the appearance" that they were getting a deal because they were influential Senators??????????????

There was no "appearance" issue. Do these bozos on the ethics committee think these two sleazeballs would have received the good deal they got if they were, ah, hot dog vendors???

We need to check and see how much of this decision was made by Justice, which dropped the case against the New Black Panthers voter intimidation.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | August 7, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Bush, Cheney, Rove had no approval and broke plenty of laws. They are the true criminals.

Posted by: RobRoy1 | August 7, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Cheney, in particular, is a war criminal of the first order.

Posted by: RobRoy1 | August 7, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

RobRoy1 - Your misdirection is irrelevant. If Bush and Cheney broke laws, prove it in a court of law. The issue at hand here is the sleaze emanating from the left side of the Senate's aisle, and the ridiculous slap on the wrist from the ethics committee.

The banking system collapses, and Chris Dodd, who was in charge of regulating it, walks away unscathed? Scandalous. I hope Connecticut voters get a clue in 2010.

Posted by: Peejay | August 7, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes. The Bart Simpson defense worked out nicely--"Nobody saw me. Can't prove anything."

Posted by: jshaver001 | August 7, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

This is not a surprise!!
These duds keep on doing wrong and get away with it.
Are their constituents paying attention?
Don’t you have any better ones to send to Washington?

Posted by: 68b2b | August 7, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

As a former Countrywide customer, I can attest that even "Friends" of Angelo get screwed. At the same time Dodd & Conrad were getting their "special treatment", I was dumping Countrywide and getting a better deal than either of them got.

Posted by: jdiyef | August 7, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Following the rules, and doing things that are going to be percieved as ethincal are oten two different things. No doubt that the fux news crowd is blowing a gasket already about this. Of course they had no ualms about republicons not jsut diong things that appeared unethical, but things that violted both ethics rules (not the same as illegal) and the law. The same folks who had a millions excuses for Abrhamoff, rove, norquist, delay, and all the rest of the republicons who broke the law and violated dozens of ethics rules now are righteously indignant.

Posted by: John1263 | August 7, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

who is surprised? with the chacago mafia all in place in the white house,what else would you expect? the people who cannot see what is happening to our country must be blind.
just last night,betty reed,and kathy castor had the acorn affiliates from s e i u show up at townhall meeting in tampa,to intimidate,and beat up on anyone who does not agree to socialist agenda. the regular folks were not even allowed inside. just THEIR people. wonder if these low lifes will do that kind of thing a few months from now when they come back to the same town to beg for votes? and wonder what kund of fool would vote for them.

Posted by: silusdogood | August 7, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Is there any stopping this? What can the American people do to get rid of these rats? Unfortunately, the media doesn't even seem to care, anymore.

Posted by: JAH3 | August 7, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the voters in Connecticutt and North Dakota still know the difference between right and wrong even as it eludes the United States Senate.

Posted by: rened | August 7, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

While these scum bags rob us blind at every turn their ridiculous attempts to cover their actions add to the nausea. When they're not openly cheating by not paying taxes they line their pockets with every benefit known to mankind while the offer us cake.

Obozzo goes out for a "night on the town" that cost $35,000. I wonder how many mortgage's could have been brought current with his one night of fun?

The only thing that sets these low life's apart is that they conned enough people to get elected.

As of 2005, research on the then current Congress found 111 members of the House and Senate who have run at least two businesses that went bankrupt, often leaving business partners and creditors holding the bag. Seventy-nine of them had credit reports so bad they can't get an American Express card on their own (but as members of Congress, they get a government-issued Amex card without a credit check).

Sixty-four had personal and financial problems so serious they would be denied security clearances by the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy if they had to apply through normal channels (but, again, as members of Congress they get such clearances simply because they fooled enough people to get elected).

Thirty one members of the current Congress had been accused of spousal abuse in either criminal or civil proceedings. Thirty three have driving while intoxicated arrests on their driving records.

Twenty four had been defendants in various lawsuits, ranging from bad debts, disputes with business partners or other civil matters.

Nine members of Congress had been accused of writing bad checks, even after the scandal several years ago, which resulted in closure of the informal House bank that routinely allowed members to overdraw their accounts without penalty. Seventeen had drug-related arrests in their backgrounds, six for shoplifting, five for fraud, four for assault and one for criminal trespass.

We deserve it if we continue to elect them.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | August 7, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could say truthfully that I am shocked, shocked that the Senate Ethics Committee appears to be sweeping misbehavior by leading Democrats under the rug. Unfortunately, this is in line with my expectations: wait until a Friday afternoon in August, release a risible statement (so the fact the program was called "VIP" should have raised "red flags"-- who knew??!!), and leave town.

Posted by: coastofutopia | August 7, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Utterly ridiculous. These guys basically said, "I knew I was getting special treatment but I didn't know I shouldn't." Even frickin' Kindergartners know better than that!
I guess if you're royalty you can do whatever you want. Didn't we fight a revolution to get out from under a tyrannical monarchy?
Quick, let's all protest to our if they'd pay any attention to us.
I can think of two ways we can change this and our government has outlawed them both. Enjoy your servitude, America.

Posted by: meand2 | August 7, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

What a huge shock! Big group of crooks pardons a couple of their own..........

They grow and propogate equally well on both sides of the isle - no integrity, no honor. We deserve what we elect.

Posted by: GordonShumway | August 7, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, of course. and it was no surprise that Dodd's prostate cancer got announced a few days ago. How long has he really known? a couple months?, but now the political expediency is to get a little sympathy to make this more palatable.

Yeah, I'm cynical.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | August 7, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey it's Alcee Hastings next. Has anyone ever seen such a bag job? Mukasey would not have stood for it.

Posted by: usarownow | August 7, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

So two democrat sleazeballs walk. What's next, and outstanding citizen award for tax cheat Rangel?

Amazing how much these corrupt A hole democrats can get away with.
Now, they're purchasing their own jets(at Pentagon expense) so they can take more trips at our expense.

Even the mindless class envy retards will be waking up soon and realize they've been had again by incompetent Obama and his corrupt party.

Pure pieces of feces, these democrat crooks.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Poor Larry.

After so many years of purity and holiness on the right, he's aching for divine retribution.

"Mindless class envy retards..."

That's a good one Larry. You're certainly safe from it. No one envies you. You have no class.

Posted by: dfc102 | August 7, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

America, the best back scratching political system money can buy.

Posted by: whocares666 | August 7, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Bush, Cheney, Rove, Sanford, Ensign, the C Street "Family": this are the true blue criminals of our era.

Posted by: RobRoy1 | August 7, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Is this a sick joke? The dems are going down hard in 2010. It's going to be a quick trip into the "wilderness" for republicans.

Posted by: restonhoops | August 7, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Democrooks walking again. Murtha will probably be found to be clean as well.


How will our sleazy Congress ever be cleaned up?

Posted by: AWWNats | August 7, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Why are the ethics committee's comprised of other legislators? My belief we should have people who are responsible for probing or investing legislators for violations should be comprised of individuals who are actually unbiased and have nothing to gain from it not other legislators....

Posted by: Rhonda5 | August 7, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait until 2010 rolls around and we'll see "REAL" changes take place...Obviously, not the changes that President Obama kept touting about....These politicians will learn that the American people are sick of the rhetoric....same old song and dance...We need people in our legislative branch who actually care about what the American people want and not these greedy, self serving, inept, incompetent politicians who keep sucking the life out our country and what it was founded on....

Posted by: Rhonda5 | August 7, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

of course there steps we could take to shrink the size of government,and reduce the corruption,and stop the muslim mafia takeover of the nation,but how many of you are willing to get up off the sofa,and fight to take the hangmans noose off lady liberty,before its too late?
numbers, thats right,numbers. 9-12 does anyone know what these numbers are? it is the date,for the march on washington. check it out,evidently you have computors,and knowledge,now,do you have patriotism? that is something you must look inside yourself,and decide.
i will be there,as well as over a million other americans who will not be satisfied with saying later,that they let someone else go,i am busy,or some other lame excuse.i will be able to say that i took the time to fight the good fight to save my grandsons future,and the future of tie country.
there are graves all accross this land,where rest the bodys of better men who fought to keep freedom and liberty alive. they have been silenced,but if you listen,and are willing to hear,their silence is deafening. it keeps people like me awake some nights,for i fear that if we allow the tyranny to prosper,we will all be part of that deafening silence.
enter the truth into your hearts,let the free spirit of truth open your eyes,and you will see as i see,the resemblence between iran and the once so great,United States.
do we remember just a few weeks ago,how the citizens,unarmed,were protesting in the streets,and the president sent his private guard to beat these people,and kill a few? remember the girl getting out of a car and shot? she bled to death,with her father standing helpless,while watching her bleed to death. the white house waited and waited,while millions begged them to say something,or do something to stop the beatings of innocent people,and after pressure from advisers,and the people,we heard,,(we condemn the actions of iran.) my!!! what harsh words president,i guess you told them who the bossman is.
the point? the point is,how will it be here,in another year if we do not put an end to the tyranny? this past week,obama called out HIS private guards,to show up at townhall meetings and beat down the opposing views.we as americans are supposed to have a right to voice discontent when things are pushed upon us,and we are ignored. acorn,and their affiliates S.E.I.U. are the private guard so to speak,and will get more power as time travels on. the joke is,that these are supposed to be americans. TRAITORS to the constitution,and the country,paid well i might add,with your tax money.
now all you have to ask yourself is,how much is freedom,and liberty worth?

Posted by: silusdogood | August 8, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

People in my home state of Connecticut. Please read the book by Michelle Malkin "Culture of Corruption." You will see that these politicans stick up for each other. They don't want Chris to loose this election. Please vote out this political machine. Our state deserves better. He left the state for Iowa to run for President. How many politicans have done that? None!!!!!! VOTE CHRIS DODD OUT OF OFFICE!

Posted by: nikkii989 | August 10, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

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