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Senator Dodd Campaign Fundraising Fueled by Online Poker

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/24/2008

The online poker sector supported Senator Christopher Dodd's now defunct US Presidential campaign to the tune of over $23,000, according to filed reports obtained by the Hartford Courant.

One collection of contributors to Dodd included 10 supporters of the Poker Players Alliance (motto: Poker Is Not a Crime), including three partners of Card Player Cruises, a Nevada company that operates gambling cruises. In May, the 10 advocates for legalizing U.S. online poker each donated the $2,300 maximum, for a $23,000 total.

Mark Tenner of Henderson, Nev., sent in the checks. Their hope, he said, is that Dodd will support the establishment and U.S. regulation of online poker, which is now available only on foreign-operated websites. Tenner said Dodd has seemed verbally supportive of the cause in the past.

Jesse A. Hamilton of the Courant points out that  Dodd, who holds a chairmanship and senior positions on major committees, is still going to be a significant figure in the Washington political scene, so people still have reason to support him.

Many of his post-campaign contributors are finance professionals, clustered in the southwestern corner of Connecticut. Dodd is the chairman of the Senate banking committee, and so oversees the lawmaking and agencies that affect U.S. financial businesses.

It was widely believed that Dodd would have helped push a bill through the Senate drafted by chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, to repeal online gambling prohibition.  That bill failed to make it past the House Subcommittee this year, which may not have necessarily been a bad thing considering some recent controversies surrounding the Senator.

As Dodd in his role as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee proposed a housing bailout to the Senate floor in June 2008 that would assist troubled subprime mortgage lenders such as Countrywide Bank in the wake of the United States housing bubble's collapse, Conde Nast Portfolio reported that in 2003 Dodd had refinanced the mortgages on his homes in Washington D.C. and Connecticut through Countrywide Financial and had received favorable terms due to being a "Friend of Angelo" - a friend of Countrywide CEO Angelo R. Mozilo.  Dodd received a $75,000 reduction in mortgage payments from Countrywide at allegedly below-market rates on his Washington, D.C. and Connecticut homes. Dodd has not disclosed the mortgages in any of six financial disclosure statements he filed with the Senate or Office of Government Ethics since obtaining the mortgages in 2003.

Countrywide has also contributed a total of $21,000 to Dodd's campaigns since 1997.  That's less than the online gambling sector has donated in just the past year. 

On June 19, Dodd told the Danbury News-Times "I don't believe I did anything wrong."  The state's leading newspaper, the Hartford Courant however concluded Dodd was negligent in accepting the Countrywide mortgage and suggested it was time "Dodd got off his high horse, came clean and admit he screwed up."  A New York Times editorial the same day accused Dodd and fellow Senator Kent Conrad of being painfully out of touch regarding the "Friends of Angelo" loans. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has called for House and Senate to investigate Senators Dodd and Conrad.

Senator Christopher Dodd, like many other politicians in Washington - both Democrat and Republican - is considered "an important ally" for the billion dollar online gambling industry, which many believe would serve to fuel the US economy if regulated.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher CCostigan@CostiganMedia.com

Originally published July 24, 2008 10:37 am EST

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