WASHINGTON, DC — Though his voice was raspy from a spring cold, Chris Dodd sounded upbeat and cheerful Monday on the telephone as he spoke about his decision to leave the Motion Picture Association of America after a six-year stint as its top lobbyist.
“All is very, very good,” Dodd said. “This has been a great, great experience.”
Dodd initially signed on as chairman and CEO of the MPAA in 2011 for a five-year contract but later extended it to give the association time to hire a successor and provide a “seamless transition.”
He won’t actually be out the door until January, allowing for a long transition for his replacement, Charles Rivkin, who arrives in September. Rivkin is the former assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs under President Barack Obama.
Dodd says he hasn’t made any plans yet for life after the MPAA. He’s not sure retirement is in the cards even as his 73rd birthday fast approaches.
“I’m not sure I would be good at that,” he chuckled. “But, I have time to think about it.”
Dodd says he has loved his time heading the organization that represents the major motion picture and television studios in the United States. He’s learned a lot about an industry that he frankly had little experience with before taking the job, but it is time to move on.
At his age, he says, the travel required can be tiring. He was in Atlanta this weekend for a Disney premier, then was in Los Angeles Monday for a meeting at Fox Studios with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to discuss trade issues, and will be back in D.C. later in the week. He estimates logging some 450,000 miles in the air in the last three years.
Dodd still has a home in eastern Connecticut where his family gathers for holidays and summer breaks.
“I love going home. We’re up there part of the summer with the girls and if I decided to spend Christmas somewhere else there would be a family riot,” he said.
Otherwise, he lives on Capitol Hill with wife, Jackie, and their two teen-aged daughters, Grace and Christina. They’ll likely stay in D.C. while the daughters are still in school.
Dodd said he has kept close contact with some of his Connecticut colleagues including Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Chris Murphy, and Richard Blumenthal.
“Dick called me this weekend,” he noted.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that he was leaving the MPAA. Dodd insists they are parting on good terms and that he will continue to be busy at work over the next months including proposals to change tax policies, trade and other issues with China and Europe, and piracy.
On the latter topic, he noted the recent hacking of Netflix’s series Orange is the New Black. After a ransom was not paid, the hacker released much of the upcoming season on the Internet.
Dodd served in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 2011, the last years as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee where he took the lead — along with House Democrat Barney Frank – in a massive overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system in response to the 2008 financial crisis.
The Dodd-Frank bill, as it is commonly known, has come under attack from Republicans eager to repeal federal regulations. President Donald Trump, in fact, told a group of about 100 community bankers gathered in the White House garden on Monday that he has taken action during his first 100 days in office to “roll back burdensome regulations,” including provisions in Dodd-Frank that are harming community banks.
“Now, Dodd-Frank, we’re working on that right now and you’ll see a very big difference, because you want to get out and make our country work properly,” Trump said. “It’s really made you and given you such a tremendous competitive disadvantage. I have friends that are community bankers, and they’ve gone through hell over the last long period of time.”
Asked about Trump’s comments, Dodd joked he was thankful for the “shout out” but disagreed that the reforms have harmed banks. He noted that banks have seen their value rise on the stock market and are well capitalized today.
“There are always things you can find and correct, but overall the legislation is holding up,” he said.
Dodd voiced particular concern that Republicans want to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“That is critically important. There was no place for consumers to go before this legislation,” he said.