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Ethics Panel’s Ruling Could Help Dodd Win Back Voter Trust

A loss of trust has been one of the biggest things eating at Sen. Christopher J. Dodd’s approval ratings back home in Connecticut. Friday’s ruling by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which cleared the five-term senator of any wrongdoing in the 2003 refinancing of two mortgages, could help lift at least one of the ethics clouds that have been been hanging over him as he seeks a sixth term in 2010. But state Republicans are doing their darnedest to keep that from happening.

In a letter to Dodd signed by all six ethics panel members, the committee said it had found “no substantial evidence” that his mortgages with now-defunct Countrywide Financial violated Senate rules. The inquiry lasted a year and included a review of 18,000 pages of documents and interview transcripts.

The ruling backs up Dodd’s repeated denials that he ever sought or even knew about any preferential treatment from Countrywide despite his inclusion in a VIP program called “Friends of Angelo” — a reference to the company’s then-CEO, Angelo Mozilo. And it reiterates the Dodd campaign’s findings,as reported in the local press, that his mortgage terms were widely available on the market at the time. That point was made yet again by the Hartford Courant in an editorial last week.

In a statement, Dodd said the ruling proved that “the allegations are and have always been false.”

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