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Ethics Panel Drops Complaint Against Dodd Just Before He Retires

The Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed a complaint alleging that outgoing Sen. Chris Dodd took part in a corrupt real estate deal.

The complaint, filed in April 2009 by Judicial Watch, alleges that the Connecticut Democrat used his influence to help his longtime friend and associate Edward Downe avoid prison for tax and securities crimes in exchange for financial benefits, including a sweetheart mortgage deal. The group also alleges that Dodd failed to disclose those benefits by filing inaccurate financial disclosure forms from 2002 through at least 2007.

But in a Dec. 20 letter to Judicial Watch President Thomas Fitton, the committee’s chief counsel and staff director, John Sassaman, said the complaint was being dropped because there is “not sufficient substantial credible evidence” that Dodd did anything wrong within the committee’s jurisdiction. The Ethics Committee receives many complaints, and the vast majority are dismissed with private letters, as was the case with the Judicial Watch complaint.

“Accordingly, the committee has dismissed the complaint and intends no further action in this matter,” Sassaman said.

Fitton called it “shameful” and “despicable” that the panel did not take the allegations seriously.

“The evidence indicates Dodd helped out a crooked friend, received a cut-rate real estate deal on a property in Ireland in exchange and then lied on his financial disclosure forms to cover it all up,” the Judicial Watch president said. “This type of behavior is potentially criminal and certainly unethical.”

Fitton bashed the committee for sitting on the complaint for nearly two years, only to toss it out “days before Dodd’s Senate career ends.”

Dodd announced this year that he would not seek re-election in November, bringing his 35-year career in Congress to an end.

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