Sen. Dodd Cleared by Senate Ethics Committee

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With just days left in office, the Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed several allegations Judicial Watch brought against U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd.

Judicial Watch, a conservative, non-partisan government watchdog group, filed a complaint against Dodd in April 2009.

It alleged that Dodd helped longtime friend Edward Downe Jr. obtain a reduced sentence for violations of tax and security laws and eventually helped him win a pardon in 2001 from President Clinton, the Hartford Courant reports.

Judicial Watch also alleged that Dodd received a reduced, below-market sales price for an Irish cottage from Downe's associate, William Kessinger and that Dodd underreported the value of the cottage on personal financial disclosure reports from 2002 through at least 2007.

Dodd has maintained he did nothing wrong.

"Jackie and I have always believed that anyone who took the time to review the facts would see that Judicial Watch’s complaint was nothing but a baseless, politically-motivated accusation," Dodd said in a statement released late on Wednesday. "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. After this lengthy review, we appreciate the Ethics Committee’s conclusion that this attack was wholly without merit.”

Judicial Watch posted the letter from the Senate Ethics Committee on its Web site and told the newspaper that the committee's decision to close the matter feeds cyncism in Washington.

"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. This type of behavior is potentially criminal and certainly unethical, and it is shameful the Senate Ethics Committee failed to take this matter seriously," Judicial Watch President Thomas Fitton said in a statement posted on the group's website."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. Even in corrupt Washington, the Ethics Committee's despicable handling of the Dodd matter is about as bad it gets. No wonder Congress's approval rating is just 13 percent, an all-time low."

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