[UPDATED with Wife's (?) Defense:] Lawrence and Kristina Dodge, (Former?) OC Power Couple, Open Up About Financial Woes
It's the Dodges' names on another building in Kansas City that has drawn to scrutiny of newshounds there, as the couple reneged on $4 million of a $5 million pledge to build the $7 million Lawrence and Kristina Dodge Painting Building within the Kansas City Art Institute complex.
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Yours truly documented the serious regulatory hits that led to the couple's financial downfall, which began with dirty dealings involving a Kansas City bank Larry Dodge founded (see link above), while my colleague R. Scott Moxley previously detailed the Art Institute suit filed in Orange County Superior Court against the Dodges (see the other link above).
As Campbell reports in his long Kansas City Star piece, the Art Institute won its case, but it's unclear whether it will ever see the money it is owed. Meanwhile, the reporter gives the Dodges free reign to defend themselves. Among the choice tidbits:
- Once multimillionaires who besides Chapman poured millions into the Orange County Performing Arts Center, St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano and the Republican Party and Republican candidates, the Dodges claim they are now so broke they are struggling to pay for daycare for their 2-year-old triplets and that the Art Institute judgment will likely push them into bankruptcy.
- "This is an organization that is ruthless, completely ruthless and heartless," a "sobbing" Kristina Dodge reportedly tells Campbell. Larry Dodge, 73, says he was served the suit "without an explanation" at his daughter's 11th birthday party, and that ever since, Art Institute officials have "been absolutely horse's behinds" as he's tried to restructure the gift.
- The couple initially tried to fight the case without an attorney because they claimed they could not afford one. That proved to be a tactical mistake as they made many judicial errors along the way and eventually were ordered to pay $4 million. They have since retained a pro bono attorney.
- Campbell explains in the piece the Art Institute is leaving the couple's name on the building because "we still expect them to live up to the contract," prompting Kristina Dodge to remark, "I don't care about that. I never did. I wish they'd take it off. We don't want to be associated with them anymore."
- The $5 million Art Institute pledge came around the same time (2004-05) the couple gave $20 million to private Chapman University, where you'll now find the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Kristina Dodge, who is 50 and remains a university trustee, and Chapman President James Doti co-host the public television program Dialogue with Doti & Dodge.
- The Center for Investigative Reporting ranked the Dodges No. 9 on a list of top "California rainmakers" for having given more than $6.8 million to the California Republican Party and various candidates between 2001 and 2008. Before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger left Sacramento, he reappointed Kristina Dodge to the Orange County Fair Board of Directors.
- The government seizure of Larry Dodge's American Sterling Insurance "just sent our lives into a tailspin," according to Kristina Dodge, who thinks the regulatory action was unnecessary and motivated by a desire to "shut down little banks."
- The couple claims it ponied up $22 million of their own money to save the bank, while also borrowing from an insurance company using their oceanfront mansion as collateral. Larry Dodge, who has forever been banned from banking as past of his government settlement, was informed by his former company that their home will be auctioned off on the Orange County courthouse steps next month.
- The Dodges say they've been selling stuff on eBay to get by.
They are due back in court Dec. 13 for a debtor hearing.
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