May 31, 2012

"John Edwards Jury Reaches Verdict on Just 1 of 6 Counts."

"Jurors told Judge Catherine Eagles they had reached a unanimous verdict only on Count 3 of the indictment. That charge pertains specifically to more than $700,000 in donations wealthy heiress Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon gave Edwards to allegedly cover up an illicit affair and illegitimate child."

UPDATE: "The jury in the federal campaign finance case against former Senator John Edwards said Thursday that it had found him not guilty on one of the six counts against him, and the judge declared a mistrial on the others."

ADDED: Let's try to figure out what happened. Here's a list of the 6 counts. Count 3 accused Edwards of receiving illegal campaign contributions from Mellon in 2008. Now, Count 2 is the same thing, except in 2007. So what they agreed on was that the prosecution hadn't proved what was required with respect to 2008. Count 5 was about contributions from Fred Baron in 2008. Count 1 was conspiracy to do the things in the other counts, and Count 6 was false statements. It seems that there's plenty there for a retrial.

56 comments:

Seven Machos said...

Count three involved a charge that Edwards received an illegal campaign contribution from Virginia Heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Well, obviously, he did receive an illegal donation. But the law making the donation illegal is a really, really stupid law.

Congress would do well to think about law much more in terms of common law, which is (despite virtually everyone's misunderstanding about it) that the law should be what reasonable people are doing, anyway.

There's just no way that we are going to stop rich people from giving their riches to politicians, or universities, or philanthropies. It's grossly unreasonable to try.

Moose said...

Exactly why do we have election law again? If this is the best they can do the laws make a mockery of the whole concept of controlling what can be done with campaign funds.

Balfegor said...

Well, obviously, he did receive an illegal donation.

FEC, which is responsible for civil enforcement of the election laws, does not appear to have agreed it was quite so obvious.

tim in vermont said...

I will point out the obvious... Had this been Bush or Cheney or any Republican, excepting of course Eisenhower, the current fave of the Left who think the only good Republican is a dead Republican...

BarrySanders20 said...

It's time for the judge to let these innocent jurors go home. It's cruel and unusual to make them think and argue about this any longer. Allow this sad and pathetic story about a sad and pathetic man to fizzle.

Seven Machos said...

Balfegor -- The problems with that analysis are (1) that money is fungible and (2) that there was no good or service provided for the money.

Anyone who is running for office who receives free money is getting a de facto campaign contribution because getting any money for any reason unrelated to an economic transaction means -- must mean -- that other contributions can be spent in other ways. In other words, this was campaign income.

I do find the work of Edwards's lawyers to focus on definitions fascinating.

Lem said...

The jurors must be from Edwards two Americas.

ndspinelli said...

The judge sent them back to work on all the charges.

ndspinelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

So, do we get to hang him, or what?

Fen said...

Meh. I'm expected less than this. Being a scumbag isn't illegal.

Fen said...

I think the takeaway is that our election laws suck.

Balfegor said...

Anyone who is running for office who receives free money is getting a de facto campaign contribution because getting any money for any reason unrelated to an economic transaction means -- must mean -- that other contributions can be spent in other ways. In other words, this was campaign income.

That may make sense, but laws don't have to make sense. FEC decisions draw a distinction between money that was transferred for campaign purposes and money that was transferred for other purposes. See e.g. MUR-5321, particularly the statement of reasons from Smith and Toner. That's not the best way of putting it (obviously there's more nuance to it than that), but it's not open and shut at all.

t-man said...

Why isn't Bunny Melon being prosecuted? She orchestrated the scheme to funnel the money through an antiques dealer that she knew.

Balfegor said...

And here is a TPM copy of another statement of reasons that suggests how transfers of money to candidates (or a loan, in this case) might not actually be contributions.

Balfegor said...

Why isn't Bunny Melon being prosecuted? She orchestrated the scheme to funnel the money through an antiques dealer that she knew.

I wonder about that too. Maybe she provided cooperative evidence against Edwards or something? Maybe they thought that since she's a dotty old lady they'd have problems proving intent? It's a black box of prosecutorial discretion. (Or maybe there's some legal reason -- I'm not a campaign finance law expert).

traditionalguy said...

It must be Not Guilty. If the one count was Guilty, then the jurors would have let the others go by now and gone home.

Rielle and his daughter will be celebrating tonight.

Michael K said...

It would seem to me (I am opposed to most campaign finance laws) that the money was used, not for campaign purposes, but for personal use. This this should be a tax case. Did he pay personal income tax ? If not, pursue the tax laws.

Mr. D said...

He’s been publicly humiliated and his political career is over. I think that’s punishment enough. I look forward to his upcoming appearance on Celebrity Apprentice, in which he is forced to work with Pauly Shore.

Richard Dolan said...

It was a stupid indictment from the get-go, and a weird attempt to expand campaign finance laws far beyond the breaking point. Perhaps the Gov't will now just drop the prosecution. But I wouldn't count on it.

edutcher said...

Re-try him on the other 5.

Thorley Winston said...

I look forward to his upcoming appearance on Celebrity Apprentice, in which he is forced to work with Pauly Shore.

Hey, what did Pauley Shore ever do to deserve that?

BarrySanders20 said...

Why waste more time and money on this?

Only a foolish or vindictive prosecutor would re-try this case.

The real scandal is the pay for play once the election is over.

Methadras said...

Teflon works!!!

harrogate said...

Even the NC Press has tired of this "case."

K in Colorado said...

If it wasn't a campaign contribution, then what was it? A gift? Did anyone pay a gift tax or income tax on this then?

MayBee said...

Our campaign finance laws are meaningless.
Someone offered Rev Wright hush money during Obama's last campaign. Is that illegal?
And Obama's last campaign was (if not still is) paying off millions in fines from the 2008 election, even years later.

William said...

I don't particularly want to see John Edwards go to jail, but to see him found not guilty will exponentially increase the level of cynicism that most people already feel about politians....Bunny Mellon is over one hundred years old. It's very hard to crack down on these out of control centenarians. Bunny should not be used as a name for anyone over five years old.

Wally Kalbacken said...

I dislike this schmuck so much I wanted a guilty verdict fro that reason alone.

I'd like to see him convicted of enough to remove his bar license. If he were to then go away, I think that would be fair.

William said...

I wonder if, when Bunny turned thirty or forty, she made any effort to get people to call her by some other name. At a certain point in time a name like Bunny becomes grotesquely inappropriate. Maybe when you have that much money any name becomes an honorific. Her father could have named her Shithead, and most people would have addressed her with sincere respect.

LarsPorsena said...

I'm glad he's not going to jail; Obama needs his help on the campaign trail.

Darrell said...

John Edwards was lactating when he took his bar exam.

Chuck said...

Why isn't Bunny Melon [sic] being prosecuted? She orchestrated the scheme to funnel the money through an antiques dealer that she knew.

Bunny Mellon is 101 years old, is infirm and incapable of standing trial. And most importantly, it is my understanding that her lawyers were 100% cooperative with the US Attorney's office.

I do understand the right-wing sympathizers with Edwards on nothing more than than the ideological hatred for campaign finance laws. I should be one of those sympathizers. My head tells me that the prosecution is technically misguided.

But my heart wants to see Edwards in a federal penitentiary.

Incidentally, there was another famous prosecution in Detroit over Edwards-related campaign fund laundering. Plaintiff attorney and Friend of Edwards Geoffrey Fieger, along with a former law partner were acquitted in a lengthy jury trial after they were caught writing lawfirm checks to employees who had made donations to Edwards' 2004 campaign. Low level delivery clerks who had never made political donations had made max-amount donations to Edwards, and then got checks from the firm for the same amount, plus taxes.

Inexplicably, the district judge instructed the jury that they could convict only if they found that the defendants knew that what they were doing was wrong. And guess what? The defendants said that they didn't know. How about that?

Gerry Spence defended Fieger.

AprilApple said...

I predict Edwards will soon have his own show on CNN.

Seven Machos said...

If there is a retrial, there would hopefully be more evidence allowed on both sides.

Michael said...

EDWARDS 2012! He's tanned, he's rested... he's Daddy.

Michael said...

"I wonder if, when Bunny turned thirty or forty, she made any effort to get people to call her by some other name. At a certain point in time a name like Bunny becomes grotesquely inappropriate."

It was quite the fashion in WASP circles at one time. See also Happy Rockefeller, Babe Paley, Slim Keith, etc.

Revenant said...

Schadenfreude notwithstanding, he shouldn't have been on trial in the first place.

His real crime, I think, was embarrassing the powerful political figures who had supported him.

traditionalguy said...

Novel idea: Trust the Jury.

The "law" he supposedly violated is intentionally vague and what the Prosecutor asked for was an assumption that personal gifts are ipso facto the same as campaign donations.

Well, the Charlotte jury was too smart for that low rent idiocy that presumes Federal Prosecutors act in good faith.

Try their con games in DC on Scooter Libby or in Chicago on Conrad Black or in Alaska on Ted Stevens, but keep the hell out of the educated Southern cities.

Gene said...

Chuck:"... my heart wants to see Edwards in a federal penitentiary."

My heart wants to see Michelle Obama in a federal penitentiary for (1) having her salary doubled when her husband became a senator, (2) for taking million dollar vacations on Air Force One (or 2), and (3) for wearing designer dresses every time she appears in public when so many Americans are still out of work (this last offense is the Marie Antoinette callousness law).altin 20

Hagar said...

Drop it, and let him spend the rest of his life rattling around in that 30,000 square foot mansion, shunned by all.

Revenant said...

Novel idea: Trust the Jury.

Simple observation: they reached the wrong outcome on 5 out of 6 charges.

That's *after* millions of dollars were spent wrongly prosecuting the defendant, of course.

Seven Machos said...

Correction: they did not reach an outcome on five of the six counts.

Pastafarian said...

tradguy: "Novel idea: Trust the Jury. The "law" he supposedly violated is intentionally vague and what the Prosecutor asked for was an assumption that personal gifts are ipso facto the same as campaign donations."

The "law" with scare quotes? Is it the law or not, tradguy? I guess it's just the law for some of us. For others, it's just the "law" to be dodged and ducked.

So when someone gives you hundreds of thousands of dollars with the notation attached "to save the country", and you happen to be running for president...that's a gift and not a campaign contribution?

Really, tradguy?

Trust the jury. Of course, it almost certainly had 6 or 7 partisan Democrats, and they would have acquitted Edwards if he'd been caught naked, eating the face off of a homeless man.

But trust the jury, because they never make mistakes. They're like the umpire in baseball: If you're called out, you're out. OJ? He was framed.

EMD said...

Maybe the prosecutors are woefully inept. They are, after all, public employees.

Revenant said...

Correction: they did not reach an outcome on five of the six counts.

They failed to reach a verdict. They did not fail to reach an outcome.

Failure to reach a verdict WAS the outcome. :)

A. Shmendrik said...

I don't think it was coincidental that Edwards turned to 1) a guy with terminal cancer (and a shitload of $) and 2) a then nonagenarian (with a shitload of $) to be the sources of the money that supported and kept quiet Ms. Hunter. Fred Baron expired about as expected, but Bunny Mellon keeps on tickin'. But methinks that Edwards looked at a list of sources for the $, rank ordered them by least likelihood of being able to testify, should things blow up, to cover the downside.

I'd like to see the government retry this case, or at least see Edwards surrender his law license in any bargained guilty plea. He is a total piece of shit.

Fen said...

Chuck: ... my heart wants to see Edwards in a federal penitentiary.

Seeing his hair fall out would be nice.

2016: John Edwards becomes spokesman for the Hair Club for Men.

Justice.

LakeLevel said...

I remember that Ann had a post a year or more ago asking people if Edwards would go to jail. I don't recall, did anyone else besides me predict him walking because he is super rich and has very high Democrat connections?

LakeLevel said...

Any bets on John Corzine?

MayBee said...

Second look at Supreme Court Justice John Edwards?

Robert Cook said...

"Plaintiff attorney and Friend of Edwards Geoffrey Fieger...."

And brother of late rock star Doug Fieger, of The Knack and "My Sharona" fame.

Robert Cook said...

"Second look at Supreme Court Justice John Edwards?"

Why post inane quips?

Edwards is radioactive and is politically dead, done, and gone.

jvermeer51 said...

A larger question: how is it that the knuckle-dragging neanderthals of the evil right knew Edwards was slime from the start and the sophisticated, intellectuals of the left missed it?

Robert Cook said...

"A larger question: how is it that the knuckle-dragging neanderthals of the evil right knew Edwards was slime from the start."

The knuckle-dragging neanderthals of the evil right think every Democrat is slime; they're bound to be right some of the time!

(Given contemporary national politics, the harder feat is to identify those of either party who are not slime.)

Chuck said...

To all of Althousiana:

For anyone who wonders who else saw Edwards as a loathsome liar way, way back in 2004, here is Charles Krauthammer:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34167-2004Oct14.html

I do think that this is my favorite Charles Krauthammer column of all time.