When Attacking, Dodd Says Leave Wife Alone

We all know that politics leading up to the 2010 Senate race is going to be vicious. U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd is at his most vulnerable as election season nears, but his latest political fight is not for his seat - right now.  It’s over his wife’s credentials after a Republican state leader attacked them last week.

In an opinion-editorial in the Hartford Courant Sunday, Senator Dodd admitted to making mistakes and said he has been open and honest about them, but said this attack went too far.

“I've been focused on doing my job fighting for you. However, this past week the attacks against me just went too far. The state GOP chairman, Chris Healy, attacked my wife, Jackie. He claimed she served on corporate boards and isn't qualified. That is a flat-out lie and it's low-blow politics at its worst.”

What prompted the response was what Connecticut Republican Chairman Christopher Healy said in an article that appeared in Tuesday’s Courant.

In it, he questioned whether Dodd's wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd was qualified for $400,000 to $500,000 a year by serving as a director on several corporate boards. The query was in response to a Hartford Courant article that ran on May 7.

Clegg Dodd serves on boards including the audit committee of Blockbuster Inc. and the board of CME Group, the world's largest futures exchange, the newspaper reports.

One of Clegg Dodd’s key credentials is her role as founder and managing partner of Clegg International Consulting LLC, a company that had had no clients for 3-and-a-half years, the newspaper reported.

"It appears that Mrs. Dodd was given all of the privileges without the pedigree," Healy told the Courant. "If her most significant public credential is her business acumen, where was the business?" 

Dodd’s camp has backed his wife, citing two decades of work for the Senate banking and appropriations committees and the Export-Import Bank of the United States and as founder and chief executive of her consulting business.

“As a highly educated, professional woman with a long and accomplished career, Jackie is qualified to serve on these boards,” Dodd wrote in Sunday’s Courant column. “She has a master's degree in strategic studies from Georgetown University and has been a guest lecturer at universities across the country.”

After government service, Clegg Dodd started her own consulting business, Dodd wrote. Later, she decided to dedicate her work full time to boards of directors duties and had not taken on clients since the birth of the couple’s second child, Senator Dodd said in the newspaper column.

Healey also made allegations of a conflict of interest surrounding Clegg-Dodd’s CME Group position. 

Clegg-Dodd told the newspaper she cleared all directorships so there would be no conflict of interest.

“Short of giving up her career altogether, Jackie has done everything she could to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. She has sought and followed the advice of ethics counsel, she has turned down positions on boards, and she has turned away potential clients,” Dodd wrote.

State Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo also lobbed back last week.

"It is pretty clear from his comments that this was a baseless attack made with complete disregard for the truth about Jackie Clegg Dodd's distinguished career," DiNardo told the Courant.

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