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Christopher John "Chris" Dodd (born May 27, 1944) is an Americanmarker lawyer and Democratic politician currently serving as the senior U.S. Senator from Connecticutmarker.

Dodd is a Connecticut native and a graduate of Georgetown Preparatory Schoolmarker in Bethesda, Maryland, and Providence Collegemarker. His father, Thomas J. Dodd, was one of Connecticut's United States Senators from 1959-1971. Chris Dodd served in the Peace Corps for two years prior to entering law school at the University of Louisville, and during law school concurrently served in the United States Army Reserve.

Dodd returned to Connecticut, winning election in 1974 to the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut's 2nd congressional district and was reelected in 1976 and 1978. He was elected United States Senator in the elections of 1980, and is now the longest-serving Senator in Connecticut's history, the 9th most senior of current Senators and one of three from the 1980 freshman class who are still serving.

Dodd served as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1995 to 1997. He currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. In 2006, Dodd decided to run for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, but eventually withdrew after running behind several other competitors.

Early life and education

Dodd was born in Willimanticmarker, Connecticutmarker. His parents were Grace Mary Dodd (née Murphy) and U.S. Senator Thomas Joseph Dodd; all eight of his great-grandparents were born in Irelandmarker. He is the fifth of six children; his eldest brother, Thomas J. Dodd Jr., is a professor emeritus of the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown Universitymarker, and served as the U.S. ambassador to Uruguaymarker and Costa Ricamarker under President Bill Clinton.

Dodd attended Georgetown Preparatory Schoolmarker, a Jesuit boys' school in Bethesda, Marylandmarker. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in English literature from Providence Collegemarker in 1966. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small rural town in the Dominican Republicmarker from 1966 to 1968. While there, he became fluent in Spanish. Dodd then joined the United States Army Reserve, serving until 1975 (and thereby avoiding active duty service in Vietnam).

In 1972, Dodd earned a Juris Doctor at the University of Louisvillemarker, where he served as vice magistrate of the law school's student body. The following year, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar, and began practicing law in New Londonmarker.

In July 1970, Dodd married Susan Mooney; they divorced in October 1982. Afterwards, he dated at different times Bianca Jagger and Carrie Fisher, among others. In 1999, he married his second wife, Jackie Marie Clegg, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The couple has two daughters, Grace (born September 2001) and Christina Dodd (born May 2005). Dodd is also the godfather of singer/actress Christy Carlson Romano, who once interned in his office.

Dodd lives in East Haddam, Connecticutmarker when Congress is not in session. He also owns a vacation home in Connemara, Irelandmarker.

Dodd was part of the "Watergate class of '74" which CNN pundit David Gergen credited with bringing "a fresh burst of liberal energy to the Capitolmarker." Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut's 2nd congressional district and reelected twice, he served from January 4, 1975 to January 3, 1981. During his tenure in the House, he served on the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations.

U.S. Senator

Dodd was elected to the Senate in the 1980 election and was subsequently reelected in the 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004 elections. He is the first Senator from Connecticut to serve five consecutive terms. From 1995 to 1997, he served as General Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As General Chairman, Dodd was the DNC's spokesman. Donald Fowler served as National Chairman, running the party's day to day operations.Dodd has also involved himself in children’s and family issues, founding the first Senate Children’s Caucus and authoring the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees employees unpaid leave in the event of illness, a sick family member, or the birth or adoption of a child. To date, more than 50 million employees have taken advantage of FMLA protections. He is currently working to support a bill that would provide paid family and medical leave. For his work on behalf of children and families, the National Head Start association named him “Senator of the Decade” in 1990.


During the 1994 elections, the Republicans won the majority in both houses of Congress. Dodd therefore entered the minority for the second time in his Senate career. He ran for the now vacant position of Senate Minority Leader, but was defeated by South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle by one vote. The vote was tied 23-23, and it was Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell who cast the deciding vote by absentee ballot in favor of Daschle. Shortly after that, Campbell switched parties and became a Republican.

Dodd briefly considered running for President in 2004, but ultimately decided against such a campaign and endorsed fellow U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. He then was considered as a likely running mate for his friend, eventual Democratic nominee John Kerry. He was also considered a possible candidate for replacing Tom Daschle as Senate Minority Leader in the 109th Congress, but he declined, and that position was instead filled by Harry Reid.

A 2008 poll of Connecticut voters suggested Dodd would have difficulty winning re-election in 2010, with 46% viewing his job performance as fair or poor. A 2009 poll by Quinnipiac Universitymarker found a majority of Connecticut voters would vote to replace Dodd in the 2010 election.

In March 2009 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Susan Bysiewicz was quoted in the Yale Daily News suggesting Dodd's yet unannounced re-election bid could be a drag on the fortunes of other Connecticut Democrats in the 2010 election. A poll that month taken by Quinnipiac showed Dodd trailing possible Republican opponent Rob Simmons for re-election in 2010, although another poll by website DailyKos taken less than a week later showed Dodd leading Simmons 45-40. On May 19, 2009, Merrick Alpert announced he would challenge Dodd for the Democratic nomination for Senate. On March 15, 2009, Simmons announced he was running for the Senate. State Senator Sam Caligiuri, former Ambassador to Ireland Thomas Foley, and economic commentator & president of Euro-Pacific Capital, Inc. Peter Schiff are also seeking the Republican nomination. An April 2009 Quinnipiac poll had Dodd losing to Simmons by 16 points, while a May 2009 Quinnipiac poll showed Dodd losing to Simmons by six points. A November 2009 Quinnipiac poll showed Dodd losing hypothetical contests against Republicans Simmons, McMahon, and Foley. Dodd currently leads Democratic challenger Alpert 55-21.

On July 31, 2009 he announced he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, which his aides say is at an early stage and will result in surgery during the Senate August recess. Dodd has since had the operation, and says his operation was fully successful.

2008 Presidential campaign

Dodd speaking on the campaign trail, January 2007.
On January 11, 2007, Dodd announced his candidacy for the office of President of the United States on the Imus in the Morning show. On January 19, 2007, Dodd made a formal announcement with supporters at the Old State Housemarker in Hartford.

The watchdog group opensecrets.org pointed out that the Dodd campaign was heavily funded by the financial services industry, which is regulated by committees Dodd chairs in the Senate.

In May, he trailed in state and national polls and acknowledged he wasn't keeping pace with rival campaigns' fund raising. However, he said that as more voters became aware of his opposition to the Iraq War, they would support his campaign. However, his prospects did not improve; a November 7, 2007 Gallup poll placed him at 1%.Dodd dropped out of the primary race on the night of the January 3, 2008 Iowa caucuses after placing seventh with almost all precincts reporting, even though he had recently moved from his home state to Iowa for the campaign.

Among eight major candidates for the nomination Dodd, even with later states where he was on the ballot after withdrawal, won last place by popular vote in primary (after Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel, also including uncommitted delegates and scattering votes). He won a total of 25,252 votes in delegates primaries and 9,940 in penalized contests.

Dodd later said he was not interested in running for Vice President or Senate Majority Leader. Dodd endorsed former rival Barack Obama on February 26, 2008.

Controversies

Countrywide Financial loan controversy

In his role as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Dodd proposed a program in June 2008 that would assist troubled subprime mortgage lenders such as Countrywide Financial in the wake of the United States housing bubble's collapse. Condé Nast Portfolio reported allegations that in 2003 Dodd had refinanced the mortgages on his homes in Washington, D.C. and Connecticut through Countrywide Financial and had received favorable terms due to being placed in the "Friends of Angelo" VIP program, so named for Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Dodd received mortgages from Countrywide at allegedly below-market rates on his Washington, D.C. and Connecticut homes. Dodd had not disclosed the below-market mortgages in any of six financial disclosure statements he filed with the Senate or Office of Government Ethics since obtaining the mortgages in 2003.

Dodd's press secretary said "The Dodds received a competitive rate on their loans", and that they "did not seek or anticipate any special treatment, and they were not aware of any", then declined further comment. The Hartford Courant reported Dodd had taken "a major credibility hit" from the scandal. At the same time, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Kent Conrad and the head of Fannie Mae Jim Johnson received mortgages on favorable terms due to their association with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and two Connecticut papers have demanded further disclosure from Dodd regarding the Mozilo loans.

On June 17, 2008, Dodd met twice with reporters and gave accounts of his mortgages with Countrywide. He admitted to reporters in Washington, D.C. that he knew as of 2003 that he was in a VIP program, but claimed it was due to being a longtime Countrywide customer, not due to his political position. He omitted this detail in a press availability to Connecticut media.

On July 30, 2009, Dodd responded to news reports about his mortgages by releasing information from the Wall Street Journal showing that both mortgages he received were in line with those being offered to general public in fall 2003 in terms of points and interest rate.

On August 7, 2009, a Senate ethics panel issued its decision on the controversy. The Select Committee on Ethics said it found "no credible evidence" that Senator Dodd knowingly sought out a special loan or treatment because of his position, but the panel also said in an open letter to Mr. Dodd that the lawmaker should have questioned why he was being put in the "Friends of Angelo" VIP program at Countrywide: "Once you became aware that your loans were in fact being handled through a program with the name 'V.I.P.,' that should have raised red flags for you."

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac controversies

Senator Dodd was involved in issues related to the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

As part of Dodd's overall mortgage bill the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 before Congress in the summer of 2008, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson sought provisions enabling the Treasury to add additional capital and regulatory oversight over these government sponsored enterprises. At the time, it was estimated that the federal government would need to spend $25 billion on a bailout of the firms.

During this period, Dodd denied rumors these firms were in financial crisis. He called the firms "fundamentally strong", said they were in "sound situation" and "in good shape" and to "suggest they are in major trouble is not accurate".

In early September, after the firms continued to report huge losses, Secretary Paulson announced a federal takeover of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Dodd expressed skepticism of the action, which the Treasury estimated could cost as much as $200 Billion.

Dodd is the number one recipient in Congress of campaign funds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Critics also charge that Dodd ignored repeated warnings that the two firms were in need of major reform.

Irish Cottage controversy

In February 2009 Kevin Rennie, a columnist at the Hartford Courant, ran an op-ed concerning Dodd's acquisition of his vacation home in Roundstone, Irelandmarker.The article alleged that Dodd's former partner in buying the home had ties to disgraced Bear Stearns principal Edward Downe, Jr. who has since been convicted of insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. After paying an $11 million fine for his role in the scam, Downe later obtained a pardon in the waning days of the Bill Clinton administration. The controversial pardon was granted after Dodd lobbied Clinton on Downe's behalf. Dodd's letter to the President said, "Mr. President, Ed Downe is a good person, who is truly sorry for the hurt he caused others". After Downes' pardon, Dodd bought out the interests of his partner for a price allegedly based on a 2002 bank appraisal of the Roundstone home, which yielded little profit for Dodd's partner. Rennie criticized Dodd for claiming the Roundstone home was worth less than $250,000 in Senate ethics filings; some observers estimated the likely value in excess of $1 million USD.

In June 2009 Dodd provided a new statement to the Senate reporting the actual current value of his Irish property at $658,000. The Wall Street Journal later compared this issue to the ethical charges which led to the political demise of Alaskamarker Senator Ted Stevens.

AIG federal assistance and bonuses controversy

From the fall of 2008 through early 2009, the United States government spent nearly $170 Billion to assist failing insurance giant, AIG. AIG then spent $165 million of this money to hand out executive "retention" bonuses to its top executives. Public outrage ensued over this perceived misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Senator Chris Dodd was responsible for the inclusion of a clause limiting excessive executive pay in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. On February 14, 2009, the Wall Street Journal published an article, Bankers Face Strict New Pay Cap, discussing a retroactive limit to bonus compensation inserted by Chris Dodd into the stimulus bill that passed in the Senate.

The same article went on to mention that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers "had called Sen. Dodd and asked him to reconsider".

When the bill left conference, Dodd's provision had been amended to include a provision preventing limits on bonuses previously negotiated and under contract. This provision was lobbied for by Geithner and Summers.

As Dodd explained in his March 18 interview on CNN, at Geithner and the Obama Administration's insistence he allowed his provision's original language to include Geithner and Summers' request, which in turn allowed AIG to give out bonuses under previously negotiated contracts. However, Dodd's provision also includes language allowing the Treasury Secretary to examine bonuses doled out and, if they are found to be in violation of the public interest, recoup those funds.

Dodd retreated from his original statement that he did not know how the amendment was changed. Dodd was criticized by many in the Connecticut media for the apparent flip-flop. In a March 20, 2009 editorial the New Haven Register called Dodd "a lying weasel" The same day, Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green called on Dodd not to seek re-election in 2010.

The Hill.com described Dodd as "reeling" from the controversy and having "stepped in it" after changing his story as to the bonus amendment.

At a press conference in Enfield, Connecticut, on Friday, March 20, Dodd responded to critics and explained that his original answer to a CNN answer was based on a misunderstanding of the question. He also said he was disappointed that the Treasury officials who asked him to make the legislative changes had not identified themselves, refusing to confirm the actual identity of the individuals responsible for changing the amendment.

The next day, voters in Ridgefield rallied against Dodd and the Obama economic agenda The Manchester Journal Inquirer suggested that "Chris Dodd's explaining may have only begun".

Opensecrets.org reports Dodd has received over $223,000 from AIG employees, many of whom were Connecticut residents, for his recent campaigns. Additionally, it has recently been revealed that Senator Dodd's wife is a former Director for Bermuda-based IPC Holdings, a company controlled by AIG. She held this position before she married Senator Dodd. On May 3, 2009, the Courant reported Dodd's wife served on a number of corporate boards, including the CME Group and could be earning as much as $500,000 annually for her service on said boards.On March 30, 2009, it was reported that former AIG Financial Products head Joseph Cassano personally solicited contributions from his employees in Connecticut via an e-mail in fall 2006 suggesting that the contributions were related to Dodd's ascension to the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee.

Political positions

Dodd has supported amending the Family and Medical Leave Act, which he authored in 1993, to include paid leave, restoring the rule of law to the U.S. immigration system, and a corporate carbon tax to combat global warming.

Dodd is credited with inserting the last-minute pay limit into American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The pay restrictions included prohibition of bonuses in excess of one-third of total salary for any company receiving any money from the plan and was retroactive to companies that received funds under Troubled Assets Relief Program.Fortune magazine however, panned this provision as likely to "drive the craftiest financial minds away from the most troubled institutions". This article also pointed out the Dodd bill delegated to the Treasury Secretary the right to approve appropriate restaurants for client entertainment.

In May 2009, Dodd was the author and lead sponsor of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 22, 2009. The law requires card companies give cardholders 45 days notice of any interest rate increases, prevents card companies from retroactively increasing interest rates on the existing balance of a cardholder in good standing for reasons unrelated to the cardholder's behavior with that card, and prohibits card companies from arbitrarily changing the terms of their contract with a cardholder, banning the so-called practice of "any-time, any-reason repricing." Also included in the bill were provisions requiring companies to give cardholders time to pay their bills by requiring card companies to mail billing statements 25 calendar days before the due date and individuals under the age of 21 to either show income or have a co-signer in order to obtain a credit card. In a conference call with reporters after the bill was signed, Dodd stated his intention to continue work on capping credit card interest rates at thirty percent and to establish limits on fees that merchants pay when a customer uses a credit card for a purchase.

Dodd announced on June 22, 2009, that he supports same-sex marriage. The Senator had opposed gay marriage in the 2008 election, but stated that his daughters are growing up in a different generation than his and that his views have evolved over time. Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Connecticut since November 12, 2008. On April 23, 2009, the legistlature overwhelmingly passed and Gov. Jodi Rell signed a bill making all references to marriage in law gender neutral.

Committee assignments



Electoral history

References

  1. The others are Arlen Specter and Chuck Grassley
  2. Biography of Thomas J. Dodd
  3. http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hcu-qpoll-0210,0,4411573.story
  4. http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/28159
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  7. http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/x12347113/Democrat-Merrick-Alpert-to-challenge-Dodd-It-it-time-for-a-change
  8. http://www.courant.com/news/local/statewire/hc-ap-ct-simmons-doddmar15,0,3135783.story
  9. http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1296.xml?ReleaseID=1301
  10. http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1296.xml?ReleaseID=1395
  11. Dodd Has Prostate Cancer, but It Was Caught Early
  12. http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=6315
  13. Journal Inquirer > Archives > Connecticut > Dodd defends his Countrywide mortgages
  14. Damian Paletta, "Dodd Tied to Countrywide Loans", Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2008
  15. Elections - Courant.com
  16. A Friend in Need - washingtonpost.com
  17. Beltwaywide Financial - WSJ.com
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  22. {{cite web | last = Crittenden | first = Michael R. | title = Sen. Dodd calls Fannie, Freddie 'fundamentally strong' | publisher = MarketWatch | date = 2008-07-11 | url = http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/sen-dodd-calls-fannie-freddie/story.aspx?guid={6D500286-5BDC-433B-A2EF-A9B3CE520ADE}&dist=hpts | accessdate = 2008-11-09}}
  23. http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-rennie0222.artfeb22,0,4471645.column
  24. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,975748,00.html
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  38. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/03/19/aig_bonuses_light_a_fire_under.html?wprss=44
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