Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ethics Committe Lets Dodd Off the Hook: Dismisses Charges

Washington (CNN) -- The Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed a complaint of alleged corruption by retiring Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, according to statements Wednesday from Dodd and the group the filed the complaint.

Judicial Watch, which describes itself as a conservative public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, said it was notified on December 20 by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, known as the Ethics Committee, about the dismissal of its complaint.

According to the Judicial Watch statement, the complaint filed in April 2009 alleged that Dodd helped Edward Downe Jr. "obtain a reduced sentence and ultimately a full presidential pardon for tax and securities crimes" from former President Bill Clinton in exchange for a below-market sales price on a property in Ireland co-owned by Downe.

The statement said the Senate ethics panel responded that "there is not sufficient substantial credible evidence of improper conduct or violation within its jurisdiction to warrant further action."

In his statement, Dodd said the Judicial Watch complaint was "nothing but a baseless, politically motivated accusation."

"Even during a Congress when Republicans and Democrats did not agree on much, the Senate Ethics Committee -- made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats -- dismissed this complaint after a careful 20-month review of the facts." Dodd's statement said. "After this lengthy review, we appreciate the Ethics Committee's conclusion that this attack was wholly without merit."

Tom Fitton, the Judicial Watch president, called the Senate panel's decision "shameful."

"The Senate Ethics Committee sat on our complaint for nearly two years, and then dismissed it out of hand days before Dodd's Senate career ends," Fitton said in the group's statement.

Members of the Senate Ethics Committee are Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-California; Vice Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia; Democrats Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Republicans Pat Roberts of Kansas and James Risch of Idaho.

CNN's Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

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