Unfortunately That is Not a Federal Offense
John Edwards is Exhibit A in the argument that politicians can be terrible people regardless of whether or not they are Republican or Democrat. Mr. Edwards started out as a fairly decent person, even though he was a trial lawyer. He won election to the United States Senate from
North Carolina, running on a platform of having government actually help people who needed help. As a young, reasonably intelligent person who demonstrated that a Democrat could be elected in the South he had a rather bright future ahead of him.
Mr. Edwards had visions of being President. The route to that office was open to him, be either being re-elected Senator, thus demonstrating that moderate to conservative voters would support him even after he established a record, or running for and becoming Governor, demonstrating executive leadership. But Mr. Edwards felt so strongly he was destined for the Presidency after a single term in the Senate that he decided to run immediately, and ended up as a losing VP candidate in 2004 and a losing Presidential aspirant in 2008.
His losses were proof that sometimes
Providence does look out for democracies. It turned out that while his wife was sick and dying he engaged in an affair with another woman, fathered a child and tried to cover up the whole thing. Now he is going on trial to determine if the cover-up and diversion of campaign funds was illegal.
Mr. Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee and a 2008 presidential contender, was indicted last June on six felony and misdemeanor counts, including making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Edwards is accused of violating campaign-finance laws during his 2008 presidential campaign by accepting more than $900,000 from two donors, in part to conceal an extramarital affair with his campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, and her resulting pregnancy. Mr. Edwards, who has denied the charges, could face five years in prison and hefty fines, if convicted.
The legal case against Mr. Edwards is questionable, and involves Federal intrusion into a part of elections that has not taken place before.
The case could also set a precedent in the way campaign-finance laws are enforced. The Justice Department's corruption unit is using an aggressive interpretation of the laws to make the case against Mr. Edwards. Payments from political supporters to a third party may be improper but don't typically lead to a criminal indictment against a candidate, legal experts say.
"Whether you agree with the government's case or not, it is certainly unprecedented," said
Hampton Dellinger, a lawyer and a 2008 Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who is writing a blog about the trial. "It seems particularly anachronistic in our current no-holds-barred, post-Citizens United world," he said, citing the 2010 Supreme Court ruling, which struck down longstanding limits on election expenditures. North Carolina
so it is entirely possible Mr. Edwards will escape conviction, particularly from prosecution by a Justice Department that has shown itself to be not only inept, but in the prosecution of the last Sen. Ted Stevens (R, Ak) downright criminal in itself.
But Mr. Edwards has already been convicted of being a thoroughly rotten and despicable person. And based on his actions, there is no appeal.