Sen. Dodd calls Pence attack ‘pathetic’

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) fired back at House Republicans who questioned his ethics this week, calling the GOP officials who crafted a critical press release “pathetic.”

The House GOP Conference, headed by Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.),  issued a policy paper on its website Tuesday that referred to Dodd as a “Friend of Angelo.” That is a reference to a special VIP program established by former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, who has been charged with civil fraud and insider trading by federal investigators.

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The policy paper, titled, “Taxpayers should not trust the ‘Friend of Angelo,’” details what Republicans views as flaws in Dodd’s financial regulatory reform bill.

While defending himself from the accusation that he acted unethically in accepting a mortgage from Countrywide, Dodd also took issue with the House GOP conference itself.

After being shown the Republican policy paper, Dodd at first sarcastically called the GOP conference “a very thoughtful operation.”

He then said that while criticisms of his financial regulatory reform bill are fair game, the personal attack is not.

“I never met [Mozilo]. Don’t know the man at all,” Dodd said. “The Senate Ethics Committee spent 14 months analyzing it. From what I’m told, there were 18,000 documents and it was determined outrageous that there was any suggestion there was any implicit connection. They’d do better to argue about the bill.”

He added, “It’s a pointless accusation from people who are kind of, you know, pathetic individuals. They always have been. And obviously the record reflects an examination of the question, and the question was answered by Democrats and Republicans unanimously, that there was nothing to the charge.”

Pence has long called for more civility in politics.

When he ran for the top House GOP post after the 2006 elections, Pence told his Republican colleagues: “It is important to get one last thing straight. As your leader, I will not encourage you to use negative personal attacks on the floor or in your campaigns.”

A spokeswoman for the House GOP conference declined to respond to Dodd’s comments on Thursday.

In 2008, Dodd, who chairs the Banking Committee, and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who chairs the Budget Committee, were accused of receiving preferential treatment on their Countrywide mortgages. Both senators said they were unaware of the special treatment, and last August both Dodd and Conrad were cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee.

The Aug. 7, 2009 letters to Dodd and Conrad from the Senate Ethics Committee both said there was “no substantial credible evidence” of any wrongdoing, although they warned both senators.

The letters stated “that you should have exercised more vigilance in your dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that you were receiving preferential treatment based on your status as a senator.”

The Countrywide controversy hurt Dodd’s political stock. Amid bad polling numbers, Dodd announced in January that he would not seek reelection.