The Senate Banking
from the very
The American Spark
Meet Christopher Dodd: The Bankers' Choice For President
By Cliff Montgomery - Mar. 15th, 2007
Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd is a man wearing two big hats on Capitol Hill: He is a Democratic
presidential candidate, and he chairs the Senate Banking Committee.
For Dodd, this may be a lucrative combination. Though he's barely a blip on the electoral radar, Dodd's $5
million campaign nest egg is surpassed on the Democratic side only by that of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who
predictably possesses one of the most efficient and elaborate fundraising machines ever assembled.
The secret to Dodd's electoral riches is found in his ties to the Senate banking panel, which oversees some of
the wealthiest industries in the United States--banking, insurance and financial conglomerates. And it doesn't
hurt that Dodd's home state is the hedge fund and insurance capital of America.
But it is Dodd's classical liberal philosophy which has especially made him a cash magnet.
Regardless of what neo-conservative pundits want you to believe, liberalism is the political philosophy that all
people deserve equal freedom and equal rights--it is not an insult to be hurled at anyone who has enough mind
to disagree out loud with a neo-conservative.
But there are two branches of liberalism: "classic" or "classical" liberalism--true American conservatism, which
believes that at all times the government which governs least governs best-- and modern liberalism, which
believes that a true democratic government also has the duty to "promote the general welfare," and "establish
Big-money interests applaud Dodd's classical liberal approach to financial regulation, and considers him a
reliable friend--a matter which makes one wonder how Dodd will do in a Democratic field which is just beginning
to go back to its modern liberal roots.
"It's not something you would trumpet to [Democratic] primary voters," Nathan Gonzales of the non-partisan
Rothenberg Political Report recently told the Washington Post.
But don't count Dodd out yet. Experts say his connections have produced ample donations which will enable
Dodd to make his name better known.
"At this stage, the money primary is the biggest race," Gonzales added.
Financial services corporations "will be making contributions to Dodd's presidential run because they can't
afford to annoy him," Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,
told the Post.
"Whether or not his presidential ambitions go anywhere, he'll still be the chairman of Senate Banking
Committee, and they will still need his goodwill."
Dodd, who was elected to the House in 1974 and the Senate in 1980, has never shied away from accepting
funds from "Big Money" financial corporations. Since last year's midterm elections, J.P. Morgan Chase and
Citigroup have hosted fundraisers for him, say participants. Insurance firms have hosted at least three
fundraisers for Dodd.
Dodd collected $3 million in the last three months of 2006 alone, out-raising even Sen. Clinton. Employees of
Morgan Stanley and American International Group were two of the largest donors. According to the
non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, Dodd has raised more money for his Senate campaigns from
securities and investment firms than from any other financial groups.
During an interview last week in his large fourth-floor office on Capitol Hill with the Post, Dodd expressed the
usual appearance of distaste with the near-constant appeals for campaign contributions all presidential
candidates must now endure. But, he added, he will not hesitate to take Wall Street's generous gifts, even
though he is chairman of the very committee that oversees its multi-billion-dollar corporations.
Such a cozy relationship with Big Money will not affect his policy decisions on the committee, Dodd insists.
"My record speaks for itself," the senator told the Post.
"I haven't changed my tune. I've been, I think, fairly consistent in my views on these issues."
To be fair, Dodd has taken some positions which make Big Money nervous. He helped write the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposed stiffer penalties on corporate accounting trickery. He has also taken
positions on a few narrow issues which upset financial firms, but are popular with the modern liberals who
usually vote Democratic.
The final shakedown? Senator Dodd seems like a decent, educated and rather reasonable legislator for his
state, and his country; but the same can be said for most of the presidential candidates on either side of the
aisle. His problem is that he may well be too dependent on the powerful groups he is supposed to oversee.
Imagine a judge who continually accepts numerous gifts of money and other financial support from the very
groups he is supposed to render judgments upon, and you can see the problem here. Senator Dodd is really
no different than anyone else on Capitol Hill, though--his owners are just wealthier.
In a way Dodd's candidacy exposes the fundamental problem in this country's political landscape. And it's a