Under fire for his role in allowing the AIG bonuses, Senator Chris Dodd mounted a strong self-defense today, telling constituents that he had no idea that a change in language in an executive pay provision would permit them.
"No one is angrier than I am," he said in Enfield, Conn.
Dodd said during the drafting of the final version of the $787 billion stimulus bill, he led the charge on including "strong language" to limit executive compensation. "I felt it was needed," he said, because too many time people try to take advantage of such situations.
He reiterated that he was asked by Treasury Department officials to change the language to protect some already-contracted bonuses to avoid legal issues.
"It seemed rather technical and innocuous at the time," said Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
He said if he had known it would allow the $165 million in AIG bonuses, "I would have rejected it out of hand."
Dodd, who faces reelection next year, said he was "disturbed" that those who sought the change didn't stand up and take the blame as soon as the controversy emerged earlier this week.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is on the hot seat himself over the bonuses, said Thursday that his staff did talk to Dodd about their concerns and accepted at least part of the responsibility.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.