A cad, not a crook

First, let’s just get this out of the way– John Edwards is a horrible person.  What he’s not, is a violator of Federal Campaign Finance laws.  The case against him strikes me as facially ridiculous and another example of politically-motivated prosecutorial over-reach.  Does it benefit Edwards campaign to keep the affair hushed up?  Of course.  But, how many people would really and truly consider hush money paid to a mistress to be a “campaign expenditure”?  If the standard for campaign expenditure is anything that benefits the campaign that is a really, really low bar that would probably lead to just about any candidate with rich friends being liable for prosecution.

The contributions were intended to help “protect and advance Edwards’s candidacy for president of the United States” by concealing his “extramarital affair with Person B and Person B’s pregnancy with his child,” the indictment says.

To this charge, I say, of course, but more generally they were intended to salvage the political and public career of John Edwards write large.  Even if he were not running for president, but simply wanted to remain a public figure, it’s pretty safe to say he would have resorted to similar means to cover this up, if he could.  Just because the revelation coming out would damage his campaign does not mean that preventing the revelation from coming out is a campaign expenditure.  There’s a basic failure in logic here.  And, from what I heard in an NPR story, a basic failure in any campaign finance precedent.  Stuff like this just pisses me off at prosecutors.  I don’t think we should use our valuable federal criminal justice resources to essentially prosecute a man for being a scoundrel.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: