September 28, 2010
Like millions of Americans, Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has had trouble covering her mortgage and other bills over the years. Her opponents consider this a scandal of disqualifying proportions. But there’s a bigger disgrace: It’s all the sanctimonious Democrats who have exploited their entrenched political incumbency to pay for multiple manses and vacation homes—while posing as vox populi.
Former senior senator from Delaware and current Vice President Joe Biden has a custom-built house in Delaware’s ritziest Chateau Country neighborhood. It is now worth at least $2.5 million and is the Bidens’ most valuable asset. Biden tapped campaign funds to pay for his compound’s lawn needs. He secured the new estate with the help of a corporate executive who worked for Biden’s top campaign donor, credit card giant MBNA.
In 1996, Biden sold his previous mansion to MBNA Vice Chairman John Cochran. The asking price was $1.2 million. Cochran forked over the full sum. Biden then paid $350,000 in cash to real estate developer Keith Stoltz for a 4.2-acre lakefront lot. Stoltz had paid that same amount five years earlier for the undeveloped property.
Stoltz told the Wilmington News Journal that “the residential real estate market was soft” at the time he sold the land to Biden. But “soft” for whom?
Stoltz was a well-off businessman who didn’t appear to be in such dire financial straits that he needed to unload the property quickly in a weak market.
Reporter Byron York looked at comparable properties in Biden’s neighborhood and found three cases where homes in the area went “for a good deal less than their appraised value. In comparison, it appears Cochran simply paid Biden’s full asking price.”
Biden’s office denied any sweetheart deals took place, but York noted that it appeared MBNA indirectly helped Cochran buy the Biden house through six-figure executive compensation funds listed as moving expenses and losses suffered on the sale of his previous home.
To be clear, no laws were broken. These arrangements were simply a continuation of Biden’s decades-long, Beltway business-as-usual relationships with a deep-pocketed corporate benefactor—which, by the way, later hired his son. Nice nepotism, if you can get it.
North Dakota Democrat Sen. Kent Conrad and Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd made cozy arrangements with subprime sleaze lender Countrywide. Portfolio.com reported that Conrad “borrowed $1.07 million in 2004 to refinance his vacation home with a balcony and wraparound porch in Bethany Beach, Del., a block from the ocean.”
Senate Banking Chair Dodd received two discounted loans in 2003 through Countrywide’s VIP program. He borrowed $506,000 to refinance his elite townhouse in Washington, D.C., and $275,042 to refinance a home in East Haddam, Conn. Countrywide helpfully waived fractions of points on the loans. The lower interest rates could have saved Dodd a combined $75,000 during the life of the 30-year loans.