Senator Chris Dodd has landed in further controversy over his Irish cottage which many say was appraised at a value far too low.
The Irish-American Democrat’s 2008 financial disclosure form, which was released on Friday, stated that his cottage on Inishnee, County Galway, is worth $658,000, about three times as much as Dodd had been reporting in past years.
In 2002, the same man who did the 2008 appraisal, valued the 1,200-square-foot house at $190,000 in the Senate financial disclosure. Dodd has never reported the cottage’s value in annual at more than $250,000.
Now, the value of the cottage has shot up, according to Dodd’s newest disclosure, though Ireland is two years into a record-breaking crash in property values, suggesting that the Galway home was worth more than Dodd was reporting for years.
Dodd has come under fire in the past for understating the value of his Irish home, and the Connecticut senior Senator called for the new appraisal of his Irish home in response to questions in the press.
The public has also questioned the nature of Dodd’s original purchase of the cottage, which he bought with Kansas City businessman William Kessinger. County Galway property records show the three-bedroom cottage sold for $160,000, and Dodd owned one-third of it, contributing $12,000 toward the down payment.
His spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said in a stetement: “The value of the cottage – or of Irish real estate, generally – isn't something that the Dodds have thought much about. However, questions have been raised and they recognize that it's important to make a good-faith effort at valuation for the Senate financial disclosures.”
The new disclosure form has been met with even more controversy with its revelation that Dodd’s wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, is receiving compensation from three of the health care companies for which she’s a board member.
The opposition has already spoken out on the matter of the cottage and Clegg Dodd’s compensation. “The fact that Chris Dodd could for years cover up the full value of the Irish home he acquired through his association with Mr. Kessinger, as well as obscure by hundreds of thousands of dollars the value of his wife's corporate board memberships is shocking, and demonstrates the need for far more open and transparent personal financial disclosures," said Jim Barnett, campaign manager for Republican Rob Simmons.
"Particularly troubling is that the enormous profits Dodd stands to reap raises further questions about Mr. Kessinger's motivation for selling the Irish property to Dodd at such an apparent discount."
DeAngelis shot back: "Obviously, they have operated well within the Senate rules — the Senate Ethics Committee confirms that — but felt it was just time to update the appraisal. There's certainly no incentive whatsoever to lowball the valuation.”
In 2002, a bank appraisal of the Galway cottage was done when Dodd and his wife decided to buy out Kessinger. The value came to $190,000, and Dodd used that appraisal on all of his financial disclosure forms since then, even though property values in Celtic Tiger Ireland boomed in the next five years.
In that time frame, Dodd also renovated the cottage with a new kitchen and intricate stonework, driving its real estate value up.
The newest appraisal states that the home can only be used as a summer cottage, due to its lack of central heating. It did not, however, include detailed information on the type of heating system, or compare its value to other homes in County Galway, both of which are typically provided in Galway appraisals.
A Dublin couple is currently renting the Dodds' cottage for the year.