Friday, November 14, 2008





NOVEMBER 14, 2008

Doddering On

With the recent Democratic gains in the Senate and a financial crisis for him to manage, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd ought to be having a magic moment. Instead, the 28-year Senate veteran and chairman of the powerful Banking Committee is embroiled in a sweetheart mortgage investigation that won't go away no matter how hard he tries.

His constituents were reminded all over again this week when a hard-hitting radio interview with Mr. Dodd surfaced. The discussion was taped at the end of October by conservative Connecticut radio host Tom Scott, but never aired. Now it's zinging across the Internet, rubbing the public's face in Mr. Dodd's mortgage problems once more.

His troubles stem from revelations last spring that he received VIP mortgage treatment from collapsed Countrywide Financial, the country's biggest home lender and a major player in the subprime crisis. His dealings are being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee (for what that's worth). His role in the "Friends of Angelo" list maintained by Countrywide co-founder Angelo Mozilo may also be a factor in a reported FBI and Los Angeles grand jury investigation of Countrywide.

Mr. Dodd has repeatedly insisted that he didn't seek and wasn't offered special treatment, but has steadfastly refused to release documents that would show whether his mortgage terms were artificially sweetened. All this was the subject of a testy exchange with Mr. Scott, the radio host and former state senator who has been critical of the press for going lightly on Mr. Dodd. He asked the senator five times why he wouldn't release the documents. Mr. Dodd can be heard saying, again and again, that he did nothing wrong and that an investigation was ongoing that would clear him.

What does that have to do, Mr. Scott wanted to know, with Mr. Dodd's own refusal to "release documents the people need to see?" Ducking the issue one last time, the grumpy Connecticut Senator finished: "What's your other question?"

All in all, fun listening. But why didn't the interview air? Todd Thomas, Clear Channel's regional operations manager, told the New Haven Independent Web Site, "That's something that happened behind closed doors." Mr. Scott himself told the Independent that a dispute with his producer, who had first tried to interview Mr. Dodd without Mr. Scott's participation, led to the piece being shelved.

-- Kim Strassel

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