Tuesday, April 24, 2012

John Edwards, Former Democrat Presidential Candidate, Goes on Trial for Accepting Illegal Campaign Contributions to Cover Up Extramarital Affair

Here's the latest report, at the Los Angeles Times, "'Sins but no crimes,' John Edwards' defense says."

But see also the earlier coverage, "John Edwards' trial set to begin on campaign finance charges":

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In a federal criminal case that has the markings of sex, money, betrayal and a handsome politician’s fall from grace, former presidential candidate John Edwards’ trial for alleged campaign finance violations opens Monday in Greensboro, N.C.

Edwards is accused of accepting more than $900,000 in illegal contributions during his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination to pay the expenses of his mistress and hide the extramarital affair that, if revealed to voters, almost certainly would have derailed his campaign and shattered his public image as a devoted family man.

The former senator from North Carolina has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. If convicted of all charges, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Monday morning and the much-anticipated trial is expected to last at least six weeks.

Prosecutors contend that bills paid by two Edwards benefactors, Rachel “Bunny’’ Mellon, a banking heiress from Virginia, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer, actually were unreported campaign contributions designed to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer who gave birth to his daughter.

“The charges against John Edwards in this case flow from his knowing and willful violation of the federal campaign finance laws during his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president,’’ prosecutors said in court filings.

Justice Department prosecutors contend this is a straightforward case of broken campaign finance laws:

“A federal candidate may only accept and receive a limited amount of money from any one individual during an election cycle, and he must truthfully report the money he accepts and receives,’’ the department said a trial brief.

Edwards’ defense team contends that the payments were not political donations, but gifts from wealthy friends to help address a personal issue unrelated to the campaign. His lawyers suggest that Edwards did not know about the money from Mellon and Baron.

“The government assumes that Mr. Edwards knew about the monies; the evidence will prove otherwise,’’ his attorneys said in a court filing.

Edwards’ lawyers contend that the government's case requires the jury to accept a novel interpretation of a campaign finance law that “has never been the basis of criminal or even civil liability in the statute's history.’’
Guilty or not on the campaign finance charges, no doubt John Edwards is one of the left's biggest douchebags of recent years --- and it's a deep bench, so that's saying a lot.