Friday, June 3, 2011

Edwards Indicted

According to a DOJ Press Release, it's a 6-count indictment "for allegedly participating in a scheme to violate federal campaign finance laws."  "The indictment, returned in the Middle District of North Carolina, charges . . . . one count of conspiracy to violate the federal campaign finance laws and to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC); four counts of accepting and receiving illegal campaign contributions from two donors in 2007 and 2008; and one count of concealing those illegal donations from the FEC."  The press release states:

"According to the indictment, while a candidate for President of the United States, Edwards conspired with other individuals to accept and receive campaign contributions in excess of limits imposed by the Federal Election Act in an effort to protect and advance his candidacy from disclosure of an ongoing extra-marital affair and the resulting pregnancy.   The indictment alleges that between 2007 and 2008, Edwards accepted and received more than $900,000 as part of this effort."

Some thoughts: 

1) This is a technical case - reporting requirement - is it really necessary to have 6 counts? Did the DOJ include conspiracy in the hopes that they could secure a plea or alternatively if going to trial - get the jury to at least compromise by convicting on one count?

2) The affair will likely not play well with a jury. But on the other hand, isn't he needed now as a father?

3) Should this be criminal?  Even if he improperly handled his campaign finances - which we do not know at this point - couldn't this be more appropriately handled via a civil action that would recover the money with penalties.  Do we really need to clog up our criminal dockets with this kind of case.


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I wonder about the necessary mens rea requirement. It is quite likely Edwards, for obvious reasons, including his marriage and campaign, wanted his affair to be kept private. But did he ever consider that the alleged "hush money" contribution had to be reported? Isn't intent to falsify the reporting records required for conviction? I would hope and think so.

Posted by: Larry Goldman | Jun 4, 2011 5:40:46 AM

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