The case of the disappearing candidate

Prosecutors allege that former congressional candidate Gary Dodds staged his disappearance following a car crash last year, in part to delay an audit of his campaign’s finances by the FEC.

The Concord Monitor reports that "Dodds, a Democrat, disappeared for more than 24 hours after crashing his car on the Spaulding Turnpike in April 2006. He told the police he was disoriented after the crash and had wandered off, crossed a river and became lost…

Prosecutors filed a motion last week to introduce evidence that Dodds had taken out two mortgages on his home without his wife’s knowledge and had received letters from the Federal Election Commission threatening an audit of discrepancies in campaign finance reports.

The evidence demonstrates a motive for Dodds to fabricate his version of events, prosecutors said.

‘The state would argue that Mr. Dodds believed the publicity garnered from this accident would increase the visibility of his campaign, allowing him to pay back the mortgages, avoid further FEC investigations, and right a campaign that was lagging,’ the motion said…

According to the motion filed in Strafford County Superior Court, prosecutors have evidence that Dodds took out a $60,000 mortgage on his home at 294 Lincoln Ave. in Portsmouth on Jan. 27, 2006. He took out another mortgage worth $30,000 on March 24, 2006, they allege.

Former Dodds campaign manager Corey Corbin will testify that Dodds and his wife agreed they would use only $50,000 of their personal money for the campaign, the motion said. However, Corbin said Dodds took out the second mortgage on the property to pay for the campaign without his wife’s knowledge.

The state also has evidence that the Dodds campaign had until April 13 – one week before the accident – to correct discrepancies in campaign finance reports or face an audit.

Campaign treasurer Frank Meanor received a letter from the Federal Election Commission dated Feb. 9, 2006, that said the campaign had filed reports in the wrong format, a violation of campaign finance rules. The second letter, dated March 14, 2006, said the FEC was "concerned that the Dodds campaign was running afoul of some reporting requirements," the motion said. The second letter requested that the campaign file amendments to clarify the financial discrepancies by April 13.

Dodds has denied that he faked the incident, but the state’s evidence ‘provides a motive for him to seek publicity, while at the same time feigning an injury that would allow him to delay or avoid the FEC audit,’ the motion said. Dodds claimed he suffered frostbite and subsequent nerve damage on his feet following his disappearance, but investigators believe he altered the appearance of his feet to make his story more believable."

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