Crunchtime for John Edwards

The media is abuzz with news that John Edwards' Washington attorney, Craig, flew to Raleigh last night. No one knows whether an Indictment was returned this week, whether the visit is for a final negotiating session with prosecutors, or whether Edwards has agreed to a plea deal and an Information will be filed tomorrow.

Nor does anyone seem to know what Edwards might be charged with, other than violating federal election laws pertaining to campaign contributions.

It seems to me the media is over-simplifying the case. It began as an investigation into whether John Edwards knew about the money Fred Baron gave Rielle Hunter and Andrew Young. The evidence has always been conflicting as to what John Edwards knew, if anything. Fred Baron, who funded Rielle and Andrew's excellent adventure and is now deceased, insisted John did not know. His widow and law partner, Lisa Blue, told the grand jury the same thing. And it's doubtful the Justice Department would bring such a high-profile federal prosecution based on the words of people with as much baggage as Andrew Young and his wife, or Rielle Hunter. [More..]

It's also debatable whether the Government could prove the payments to Rielle and Andrew were to further Edwards' presidential campaign, as opposed to keeping the affair and baby secret from Elizabeth.

Back in 2010, it was reported that prosecutors had sent their case to Main Justice and it was rejected. Main Justice told prosecutors they needed more. After that the subpoenas began flying, and they were to PACS associated with Edwards.

According to a source, when that process wrapped-up, prosecutors in Raleigh sent the case to the Department of Justice in Washington for a review. The Justice Department then told prosecutors in Raleigh to interview more people and get more information about the people who donated money to help Edwards' former aide Andrew Young, his wife and Hunter live a life on the run.

Now, a year later, prosecutors resubmitted their case to Main Justice, and it was approved.

I think the Government is intending to go after Edwards for the PACs. Particularly, Alliance for a New America (check out the contributions and disbursements here -- Oak Farms, aka Bunny Mellon, gave $3.4 million in 2008.) It's been reported that Edwards also set up an entity called Alliance for a New America, LLC (AFNA, LLC) (not a PAC) and the funds went from the PAC to the LLC. The LLC is not under reporting requirements. What's up in the air is whether this is allowable through a legal loophole, or illegal.

It seems that the PAC spent $3,309,189 on unnamed political consultants, all paid through AFNA, LLC. The payments are listed as "campaign expenses." Both entities had the same mailing address and same representative contact. The PAC was run by former Edwards campaign manager Nick Baldick, who also testified before the grand jury. While the PAC has to disclose how it spends its money, as a limited liability company, AFNA, LLC did not. Both companies are tied to

For a better explanation than I can give (although I tried here) on the
subpoenas and PACS and what's at issue, check out this news article from January, 2011. It seems Andrew Young got money from the PAC and AFNA:

A person involved in the investigation and who is familiar with the financial transactions told AP that Baldick provided Young about a $30,000 raise to move off the Edwards campaign payroll onto one of Baldick's private organizations around the time Young began taking care of a pregnant Hunter in fall 2007, when the primary campaign was heating up. Young also got more than $150,000 as commission for money he raised for Alliance for a New America. A month after Young got his last campaign paycheck on Nov. 14, 2007, he publicly claimed paternity of Hunter's child.

Records were also subpoenaed from two other Baldick companies, Slan Productions and Hilltop Public Solutions. And from a non-profit company that shared the cost of Rielle Hunter's internet videos with Edwards' 2008 campaign:

The subpoenas also seek information about the Center for Promise and Opportunity, a nonprofit Edwards formed in 2005. Jim Cooney, another Edwards attorney, told AP that the nonprofit and One America Committee had a written agreement to share costs of a contract with Hunter's video production firm, Midline Groove, to produce Web videos. Midline Groove is also listed on the subpoenas.

One theory under investigation was whether Edwards used the Center for Promise and Opportunity as a "shell organization" for his campaign.

There are two issues here:

Investigators are looking chiefly at whether funds paid to Hunter and Young — from outside political groups and Edwards' political donors — should have been considered campaign donations since they arguably aided his presidential bid.... They're also looking closely at whether any entities linked to Edwards operated illegally.

On the second issue:

Several people interviewed by investigators said the questions focused on Edwards' knowledge of campaign finance law, going as far back as whether he used his Senate office to conduct political business in violation of congressional rules. Subpoenas issued in the case request e-mails, records and other material related to more than two dozen individuals and organizations connected to Edwards and his allies throughout his political career.

Also check out the comments of Alexander Forger, Bunny Mellon's lawyer, from May, 2010. He also testified before the grand jury. He said Edwards did nothing wrong. But that was before the shift in the grand jury investigation, from payments to Rielle Hunter and Andrew Young, to Edwards' related PACs, companies and donors.

Bottom line in my view: DOJ is not going to bring a case that depends mostly on witnesses like Andrew Young or Rielle Hunter. That's a crap shoot. But the intricate financial dealings of the campaign, PACs and other companies? That's much more likely. And it's probably the latter that is causing John Edwards sleepless nights as he tries to decide whether to fight or fold.

< Thursday Evening Open Thread | Vermont Becomes 8th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana Dispensaries >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    So what else is news (none / 0) (#2)
    by Nemi on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 06:32:43 AM EST
    It seems to me the media is over-simplifying the case.
    I only just recently came around to watching the(/a) documentary about the Eliot Spitzer affair, and what kept running through my mind while watching, was "What if - and if only - the media had done what they are supposed to do: serious, investigative reporting."

    care to elaborate? (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:28:45 AM EST
    Have a link?

    Not quite sure (none / 0) (#7)
    by Nemi on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 03:50:44 PM EST
    what you're asking :( - but if it's about the documentary, it's: "Client-9. The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" by Alex Gibney. I highly recommend it. Very thorough and sober.

    One of the many - albeit minor but still unpleasant - revelations I didn't know about beforehand was how the NYSE traders on the floor broke out loudly, victoriously cheering when the news about Spitzer stepping down broke.


    thanks (none / 0) (#8)
    by observed on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 05:17:28 PM EST
    He's been indicted (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 09:43:02 AM EST
    Dadler, Dadler, Dadler... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 10:07:07 AM EST
    never give politicians money...you're sharper than that man!

    And not for nothing, I'd feel better about chipping in for the diapers than I would about chipping in for a Madison Ave. consultant...the diapers serve a meaningful purpose at least.

    I'm an idiot... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:49:22 AM EST
    make that Donald Donald Donald!