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Biography

Full Name: Christopher John Dodd
Party: Democratic
Political Office: U.S. Senator from Connecticut, 1981-present; U.S. Representative from Connecticut, 1975-1981
Business/Professional Experience: Peace Corps, Dominican Republic, 1966-68; Practicing attorney 1972-1974
Date of Birth: May 27, 1944
Place of Birth: Willimantic, Conn.
Education: B.A. in English Literature, Providence College, 1966 J.D., University Louisville, 1972
Spouse: Jackie Marie Clegg; married 1999
Children: Daughter, Grace Meacham b. 2001; daughter, Christina Murphy b. 2005
Religion: Roman Catholic
Home: East Haddam, Conn.

Updated: Jan. 6, 2010

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, is the son of a Democratic Senator and has spent almost his entire life in politics, winning election to the House in 1974 and to the Senate in 1980. On Jan. 6, 2010 Mr. Dodd announced that he was stepping aside and would not seek re-election. Since winning his Senate seat in 1980, he has never faced a tough re-election fight but was considered vulnerable in the 2010 election.

As chairman of the Senate banking committee, he had a central role in both the huge government rescue of the financial system and the economic stimulus package that was adopted at the start of 2009. And with his close friend, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, battling terminal brain cancer in early 2009, Mr. Dodd stepped in as acting chairman of the Senate health committee, which became the first Congressional panel to approve a version of far-reaching health care legislation that year.

As chairman of the Senate banking committee, Mr. Dodd proposed a financial overhaul in November 2009 that included consolidating bank regulators, creating a consumer financial protection agency and imposing new restraints on exotic financial instruments and credit rating agencies.

Mr. Dodd said one reason for his decision was that he was in "the toughest political shape" of his career. His popularity has plummeted amid the fallout from legislation he supported that appeared to clear the way for bonuses for executives of American International Group, the troubled insurance company that received billions in federal bailout money, and low-rate mortgage loans that he took from another company that figured in the financial meltdown, Countrywide Financial.

His short-lived presidential campaign in 2008 also figured in the minds of many Connecticut voters, still unhappy that he moved his family to Iowa before the all-important Democratic caucuses there.

Mr. Dodd's move opened the way for another Democrat - Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal - to run. Democrats and Republicans said Mr. Blumenthal would be a much stronger candidate in what is a Democratic state.

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Mr. Dodd's most recent troubles began in June 2008, when he was accused of having received special treatment from Countrywide Financial, the home lending giant. He was reported to have been a beneficiary of the "Friends of Angelo" V.I.P. program, named for Angelo R. Mozilo, Countrywide's chief executive. Mr. Dodd was investigated for having received improper discounts on mortgages. On Aug. 7, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics cleared the senator of the charges but chastised him for not taking care to avoid an appearance of impropriety.

In March 2009, Mr. Dodd faced an explosion of outrage over his part in bonuses paid to financial firms that had received government bailout money, most prominently A.I.G. Less than a week after the disclosure that A.I.G. had paid $165 million in bonuses after receiving more than $150 billion in taxpayer money, former Representative Rob Simmons, a Republican from the state's southeastern region, announced his plans to challenge Mr. Dodd, and polls showed the two running neck and neck.

In a news conference on March 19, Mr. Dodd explained to reporters how legislation meant to limit executive compensation was changed at the last minute. That change exempted bonuses protected by contracts, like those at A.I.G., a big campaign contributor to Mr. Dodd. Mr. Dodd said that his staff revised the bill at the urging of Treasury officials, who he said were concerned that the compensation limits, which he had written in the original legislation, went too far and might invite lawsuits. While he knew the language was being rewritten, the senator said he had no idea the revision would allow for the bonuses at A.I.G. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner came to Mr. Dodd's defense, saying in an interview with CNN that his staff had raised concerns about whether the legislation limiting executive compensation "was vulnerable to legal challenge."

The fierce reaction back in Connecticut, however, underscored the peril the usually politically invulnerable senator faces.

In August, the senator announced that he had prostate cancer, in an early, treatable form, and that he would press ahead with his re-election campaign. Mr. Dodd underwent an operation and spent August recuperating while Congress is in recess.

He is said to be in good health. But even as he has been at the center of the action on Capitol Hill, the looming re-election battle in Connecticut had seemed to weigh heavily on him.

Polling in Connecticut suggested that Mr. Dodd had been hurt both by his association with Countrywide and by criticism for his role in legislation related to the A.I.G. bonuses. Republicans had viewed the issues as powerful weapons to use against him, particularly considering the depth of anger toward the two corporations.

Even as his political prospects seemed to plummet, Mr. Dodd was so busy in the months preceding his announcement not to seek another term that some colleagues have joked about whether 2009-10 should be called the "Dodd Congress."

From the National Journal's Almanac of American Politics:

Christopher Dodd, the senior senator from Connecticut, was almost born into politics, one of five senators who are children of former senators (Lisa Murkowski, Mark Pryor, Evan Bayh and Bob Bennett are the others). His father Thomas Dodd, a lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, was elected to the House in 1952, when Chris was eight; he lost a Senate race to Prescott Bush, George W. Bush's grandfather, in 1956, then won in 1958. Chris Dodd served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic from 1966-68.

Almost immediately after law school, Chris Dodd ran for the House in the open-seat eastern Connecticut 2d District and, in the Watergate year of 1974, won comfortably. He was re-elected easily and in 1980 outmaneuvered fellow Watergate Democrat Toby Moffett to get the Democratic nomination to succeed Senator Abraham Ribicoff; he won that race by a wide margin and became the youngest senator from Connecticut in history.

Dodd, who speaks fluent Spanish, has often played a role on Latin American issues. On the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee in the 1980s he took the lead in opposing U.S. military aid to El Salvador's government and aid to the Nicaraguan contras. He has long backed freer travel to Fidel Castro's Cuba and an end to the embargo on trade with Cuba.

In September 2002 he called for international cooperation to disarm Saddam Hussein but said that lacking that, "I don't think we have any choice but to act alone." He voted for the Iraq war resolution in October 2002 but later had second thoughts.

In 2007 Dodd became chairman of the Banking Committee. He has not always taken liberal stands on economic and regulatory issues; Connecticut, with its big insurance companies, has long been a creditor state, and one that is leery of trial lawyers. In 1995 he was the chief Democratic sponsor of the securities litigation bill sought by high-tech companies and fought by trial lawyers. When Bill Clinton vetoed it, Dodd immediately started lobbying Senate and House Democrats, and both houses in December 1995 voted to override.

He was re-elected by 65%-32% in 1998 over former Congressman Gary Franks. In 2004 he faced fashion entrepreneur Jack Orchulli who spent $1.38 million of his own money on the campaign. Dodd won 66%-32%, carrying all but five of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns. In February 2007 he passed the mark of Republican Orville Platt and became the longest-serving Connecticut senator in history.

Updated: 7 years 43 weeks ago

Iowa Results Lead Dodd and Biden to Quit Race

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:01am
Two Democratic senators from the Northeast became the first casualties of the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa Results Lead Dodd and Biden to Quit Race

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:00am
Two Democratic senators from the Northeast became the first casualties of the Iowa caucuses.

‘Top Tier’ Candidate? Maybe Not, but Dodd Is Still Enjoying the Ride

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:00am
As Senator Christopher J. Dodd ambles through the early voting states, there is a decided “Why the heck not?” feel to his joyous orbit.

Dodd Navigates Political Shoals

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:00am
For the first time in years there is also doubt about the 48-year-old Senator's future.

State Democratic Chairmen Criticize Dodd as Too Liberal

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:00am
President Clinton's choice of Senator Christopher J. Dodd to head the Democratic National Committee has sparked an open rebellion among some state party leaders.

Senate Renews Bipartisan Talks on Overhaul of Financial Rules

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:00am
Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said he would tell his staff to press ahead on drafting legislation, even without Republican support.

Senate Renews Bipartisan Talks on Overhaul of Financial Rules

Fri, 02/12/2010 - 12:00am
Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said he would tell his staff to press ahead on drafting legislation, even without Republican support.

Talks With G.O.P. on Financial Bill at ‘Impasse,’ Dodd Says

Sat, 02/06/2010 - 12:00am
Senator Christopher J. Dodd said that Democrats would forge ahead with their own bill, after months of talks aimed at reaching a bipartisan consensus.

Dodd Assails Bankers’ Opposition to Financial Proposals

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 12:00am
At a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher J. Dodd said he was frustrated that nearly two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the rules of Wall Street hadn’t changed.

Dodd Denounces Pace of Banking Overhaul

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 12:00am
At a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher J. Dodd said he was frustrated that nearly two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the rules of Wall Street hadn’t changed.

Dodd Assails Bankers’ Opposition to Financial Proposals

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 12:00am
At a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher J. Dodd said he was frustrated that nearly two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the rules of Wall Street hadn’t changed.

Dodd Assails Bankers’ Opposition to Financial Proposals

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 12:00am
At a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher J. Dodd said he was frustrated that nearly two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the rules of Wall Street hadn’t changed.

Dodd Assails Bankers’ Opposition to Financial Proposals

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 12:00am
At a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher J. Dodd said he was frustrated that nearly two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the rules of Wall Street hadn’t changed.

Dodd Assails Bankers’ Opposition to Financial Proposals

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 12:00am
At a Senate hearing, Senator Christopher J. Dodd said he was frustrated that nearly two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, the rules of Wall Street hadn’t changed.

Dodd Calls Obama Plan Too Grand

Wed, 02/03/2010 - 12:00am
Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, was told that the Obama administration’s new proposals to rein in Wall Street firms could derail negotiations over financial regulations.

Curveball Alters Talks on Wall St. Reform

Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:00am
President Obama’s calls to tax and curb the activities of Wall Street have thrown an unpredictable element into the debate over financial regulatory reform.

Corrections

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 12:00am

Corrections

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 12:00am

Corrections

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 12:00am

Citibank in 2011, Hypothetically

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:00am
Suppose it is 2011 and the so-called Volcker Act has become law, curtailing banks’ riskier activities, like hedge funds and proprietary trading.