Edwards to Return Campaign Contributions From Convicted Attorney

They're dropping like flies in the Milbert-Weiss law firm investigation into an alleged payback scheme for plaintiff referrals in class action cases.

Named partner Melvyn I. Weiss is expected to be indicted today. He's going to fight the charges, says his lawyer Ben Brafman.

Last year, prosecutors in Los Angeles initially charged that Milberg Weiss paid $11 million in kickbacks to plaintiffs in more than 150 cases, a strategy that allowed it to beat other firms to the courthouse and earn more than $216 million in fees.

Tuesday, it was announced that a former lawyer in the firm, William S. Lerach, agreed to plead guilty and serve up to two years in prison. Lerach is not cooperating against other lawyers in the firm.


Another firm lawyer, Steven G. Schulman, is said to be close to a cooperation plea.

John Edwards announced Wednesday he would be returning $4,600. in campaign contributions from William Lerach. He's not returning the $81,000. Lerach and other lawyers in his current firm, Lerach Coughlin of San Diego, contributed.

Next up: Oil man Oscar Wyatt who is on trial for actions related to the U.N. Oil for Food Program. If convicted, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson have said they will donate his contributions to charity. John McCain and Hilary also received money from Wyatt, but not for their presidential campaigns, so they don't plan on returning his money.

The first Milberg-Weiss partner to plead guilty was David J. Bershad. I wonder which candidates he contributed to. OK, I'll look it up. According to FEC records, he gave $2000 to John Edwards in 2004 when he worked for Milberg Weiss. He also gave to Hillary, Barack Obama, Bill Nelson,Carolyn McCarthy, Frank Lautenberg, Stoney Hoyer and several others.

I don't think the money should be returned unless the criminal donee provided funds from illegal activity. Where's the law that says a person under investigation or convicted of a crime can't contribute? If there's a question about the source of the fees, I'd rather see the campaigns put the money in an escrow account and tell the government to do its job...find out if the campaign contributions were made with clean money. If it turns out the donations were legitimate, there's no need to return them. Convicted criminals have every right to be personally invested and involved in choosing our next leaders. If their money is clean, the candidates should keep it.

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    What? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 12:13:25 PM EST
    Where's the law that says a person under investigation or convicted of a crime can't contribute?
    Of courase there is no such law.

    Where's the law that says a candidate can't decide for themselves who they will or won't accept contributions from?

    sometimes you astound me (none / 0) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 07:55:09 AM EST
      Do you have no standards at all beyond candidates should not knowingly use the fruits of criminal acts?

      You are just about the only person I have ever heard assert that the problem with politics is that the candidates are not sleazy enough for your taste.


    Bill Lerach used to host purportedly (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:08:53 AM EST
    fabulous political fundraisers at his purportedly fabulous home in Rancho Santa Fe.