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June 4, 2011

Defending John Edwards


Longtime readers of this blog know that I'm no fan of John Edwards. He represented much of what is bad about American political leadership.

However, it occurs to me that any federal indictment that is premised on the allegation that "[a] centerpiece of the Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man" should not be a criminal matter.

The fact that Edwards is an easy target should make no difference. While it is clear that Bunny Mellon and Fred Baron financed the cover-up of Edwards' mistress and love child, it's far from clear - and simply not provable beyond a reasonable doubt - that this financing constituted illegal political contributions rather than simply payment of Edwards' personal expenses that would have been made regardless of whether he was a candidate.

The bottom line on all of this is that the financing of a cover-up to save Edwards' marriage and preserve his public image is not a crime.

If the Federal Election Commission wanted to make an issue out of this, then it should have brought a civil action against Edwards.

But this has no business being a criminal case.

Even for someone like John Edwards.

Posted by Tom at June 4, 2011 12:01 AM |


I am not losing any sleep over this one. Your absolutely right there's no victim to this 'crime'. However, Edwards voted yes to pass McCain-Feingold back in the Senate. He's getting about what he deserves for working to destroy free speech rights.

Posted by: Kevin Morrill Author Profile Page at June 4, 2011 12:55 AM

Kevin, good point that Edwards' support of McCain-Feingold is one of the most egregious of his litany of dubious political acts. I just wish his demise was a result of those misguided political principles and not a tawdry scandal and questionable prosecution.

Posted by: Tom K. Author Profile Page at June 4, 2011 8:09 AM

I was taken in too. But it was not about saving the marriage--it was about saving the candidacy for our country--he he maneuvered to be a heartbeat away as a candidate because of it. What if it was the Chinese, or Al Queda, making the payments for his coverup. Is that a crime? Am not offended by this indictment.

Posted by: plhughes Author Profile Page at June 4, 2011 11:02 AM

Pat, clearly Mellon and Baron had hitched their wagon to Edwards' political caravan. What is less clear is that they were making contributions to his vice-presidential campaign or simply assisting him in covering up a scandal that would negatively affect his political future. My sense is that it is the latter, and I have serious doubts whether that is a crime. Perhaps a violation of campaign finance laws, but not a crime..

When we allow the government to flex its overwhelming prosecutorial power through questionable charges against currently unpopular citizens, it is a slippery slope to having that same power against the rest of us.

Posted by: Tom K. Author Profile Page at June 4, 2011 11:47 AM

Count me as one who supports the criminal prosecution of those who violate campaign finance laws - whether the extreme right-wing, odious, always corrupt Tom Delay, or the phony John Edwards.

Posted by: Bill McWilliams Author Profile Page at June 4, 2011 4:59 PM

I was skeptical but now hear that $925K was alleged to be involved in this little coverup. That is a lot of money to launder, and a lot of money to move without some tax consequences.

Book'em Dan-o.

Posted by: Rusty Rustbelt Author Profile Page at June 7, 2011 4:02 PM

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