Edwards indictment coming as soon as tomorrow?

posted at 11:23 am on May 31, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

So says CBS, and if not tomorrow than by the end of the week. The John Edwards defense team has ramped up its efforts to get a plea deal in place before the grand jury returns the indictment on corruption charges.  The DoJ is playing hardball, however, and apparently prosecutors want the indictment first:

The Justice Department reportedly is ready to file charges against former Sen. John Edwards for allegedly using campaign money to hide his mistress.

After a two-year investigation, federal prosecutors could charge Edwards this week – possibly as early as Wednesday – with violating federal campaign laws when he ran for president in 2008, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.

CBS also reports the curious meeting between Edwards and his political benefactor, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, last week, confirming the earlier ABC report.  CBS provides more of an explanation for Edwards’ risking potential charges of witness tampering, explaining that it could be part of a defense strategy:

Crawford reported sources close to Edwards say there was nothing nefarious about their meeting.

Crawford explained, “(They say) she was one of his most loyal supporters. And so it was this lunch between two old friends. But, it also could play to Edwards’ legal strategy, and here’s why: Prosecutors say her money was used to support his campaign. And so, therefore, it was a campaign contribution and you can’t do that. But Edwards says, no, that’s not true. All that money, which they call the ‘Bunny money’ … was a gift from a friend. If he wasn’t running for president, she would have given him that money anyway. That is his defense. And (Edwards’ defense) says that lunch supports that. He’s not running now and they’re still getting together.”

Er, good luck with that argument.  Unless Mellon had a habit of giving Edwards $1 million in small, unmarked bills when he wasn’t running for public office, a luncheon date isn’t going to get Edwards off the hook.

Edwards’ argument is dangerous in another way.  If he turns the “gift” theory into a positive defense, then no politician will ever take a contribution again.  Instead, everyone will get “gifts” which can then be spent in defiance of every campaign finance law ever written.  It would completely undermine the FEC and any sort of legal structure for the restriction of both contributions and expenditures — an interesting position for a candidate who thought McCain-Feingold didn’t go far enough and wanted publicly-financed election campaigns shortly before he ran for President the second time.   The judge would either bar that argument, or create jury instructions that explicitly stated that politicians can’t get around campaign-finance laws by claiming that money given him was a “gift.”

The claim would be clever, at least in one respect.  Tax laws in 2007 and 2008 allowed for tax exclusions for gifts up to … one million dollars, the amount noted in the CBS report.  However, at that amount, the giver has to file tax documentation of the gift, unless given to a political organization, which would have strict regulations on its use.  Edwards’ defense, if made in court, could get Mellon into some hot water with the IRS, and prosecutors might become very interested in subpoenaing her records to refute Edwards’ claim.

That’s a pretty slender reed to which Edwards seems to be clinging.

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Is there any democrat sex scandal that the MSM has reported on without kicking, screaming, delaying, and providing interference on?

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Lock this lower-than-pondscum up for a long, long time…

OmahaConservative on May 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Who’s name is on the BC for the “father”. Arnie’s in a sh!tstorm over that.

VegasRick on May 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Man, we dodge a bullet when Kerry and this guy lost. What a slime ball.

NickDeringer on May 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Two America’s. One where you can live from paycheck to paycheck, the other, where friends give gifts of 1M dollars.

booter on May 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Federal inmates across the nation eagerly await the opportunity to ride the silk pony…

Roy Rogers on May 31, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Predicted Defense:

The Republicans made me do it!

Good Lt on May 31, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Silky Phony needs a photo op at a disaster scene ……. stat.

fogw on May 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Federal inmates across the nation eagerly await the opportunity to ride the silk pony…

Roy Rogers on May 31, 2011 at 11:30 AM

+1

OmahaConservative on May 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Predicted defense #2:

Brietbart did it!

Good Lt on May 31, 2011 at 11:34 AM

No one takes a back seat to me in my contempt of John Edwards. The guy is a twerp. And without doubt, using campaign funds to cover up a mistress is unethical to the extreme.

But should it be illegal?

Edwards should be shunned forever for this conduct, but I can’t help but think campaign finance laws are going too far in criminalizing this.

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 11:36 AM

If he wasn’t running for president, she would have given him that money anyway.

Ummm, what? for what?

ted c on May 31, 2011 at 11:36 AM

The National Enquirer will have the real story…

d1carter on May 31, 2011 at 11:37 AM

speaking of Democrat sex scandals, Jim Hoft is offering a reward for the kill/capture, er information on the #Weinergate pecker hacker that allegedly hacked anthony’s penis and tweeted his junk to a coed.

ted c on May 31, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Criminalizing politics is wrong. The money given to aid Edwards child care is not any more political than a gift by a friend to any needy person.

jimw on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

This is going to prove to be quite interesting once indictments are handed out. It will also be interesting to see how the MSM liberals spin it (and you know they will). Personally I would want this to go to trial with no plea deal just to get Breck Boy on the stand and under oath.

Carl on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

an interesting position for a candidate who thought McCain-Feingold didn’t go far enough and wanted publicly-financed election campaigns shortly before he ran for President the second time.

Edwards and the presidential candidate he ultimately endorsed (Barry Obama) are sleazy opportunists who only extoll the supposed virtues of publicly-financed election campaigns when they think it will hurt their opponent. Remember the highly-principled candidate Obama saying he’d use public financing, and calling for his opponent in the presidential campaign to pledge to use public financing too — up until the very moment that Obama realized he’d be able to rake in more money without it, and then his “principled” position promptly evaporated into thin air.

AZCoyote on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

It would completely undermine the FEC and any sort of legal structure for the restriction of both contributions and expenditures — an interesting position for a candidate who thought McCain-Feingold didn’t go far enough and wanted publicly-financed election campaigns shortly before he ran for President the second time.

With the Pony, we’re way way past the point at which charges of hypocrisy would have any real weight.

KingGold on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

I can’t get past the feeling that this is just a token Democrat indictment to “balance” the Obama DOJ.

Cindy Munford on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

If he wasn’t running for president, she would have given him that money anyway./blockquote>

Ummm, what? for what?

ted c on May 31, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Was the Silky Pony playing gigolo to a 90+ year old woman?

teke184 on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

The DoJ is playing hardball

Edwards must not be one of Eric Holder’s people. Nice hair but the wrong kind of skin. Too bad.

jwolf on May 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Why should people donate to a campaign and then find out later it was given to some hoochie mama?

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Federal inmates across the nation eagerly await the opportunity to ride the silk pony…

Roy Rogers on May 31, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Maybe it’ll provide enough incentive for California’s 40,000 prisoners to stick around and watch Silky solve the healthcare crisis from the inside.

Western_Civ on May 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Haven’t heard about the HBO movie yet. Why not? I mean, they’re finishing one right now about a Republican vice presidential candidate based on a book with unnamed sources alleging she demanded an expensive wardrobe. But nothing about a democrat VP candidate who lived a life of howling lies, psychotic hypocrisy and cretinous sexual sordidness and who now faces criminal prosecution?

Dear me. One might think the entertainment media has an agenda.

rrpjr on May 31, 2011 at 11:45 AM

But should it be illegal?

[JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 11:36 AM]

Dude. Dude! Yeah, using campaign funds to bribe people to cover-up actions that are grounds for divorce and damage claims to the third party should be illegal.

Dusty on May 31, 2011 at 11:45 AM

I tried but I couldn’t shed 1 tear for him.

docflash on May 31, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Why should people donate to a campaign and then find out later it was given to some hoochie mama?

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 11:41 AM

They shouldn’t. If I were a donor I’d be angry and if I were a news outlet I’d pursue the story since donors have a reasonable expectation to know where their donations are going. It would, after all, color the expectations potential donors would have in giving money to the Edwards campaign. As I said…unethical use of funds is pretty damning of the guy and he deserves to be shunned on that basis alone.

But illegal? As in throw him in pound-me-in-the-butt federal prison illegal? Doesn’t a government that criminalizes this have far too much power and reach?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM

But illegal? As in throw him in pound-me-in-the-butt federal prison illegal? Doesn’t a government that criminalizes this have far too much power and reach?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Yes, illegal! An illegal and unauthorized conversion of funds is a criminal offense in most if not all states. If I give you X amount of money to do Y but instead you funnel it to your mistress, you think it is not a crime? Are you suggesting an exception for donk pols who can’t keep it in their pants??

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 11:55 AM

But illegal? As in throw him in pound-me-in-the-butt federal prison illegal? Doesn’t a government that criminalizes this have far too much power and reach?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM

It’s fraud and fraud is still illegal the last time I checked.

If Edwards had self-funded his campaign, it wouldn’t have been illegal for him to be receiving $1 million gifts to pay off his mistress though the IRS would want their cut of the money changing hands.

teke184 on May 31, 2011 at 11:58 AM

I see a reach around in his future.
John Edwards aka “the Bottom boy”

esnap on May 31, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Yes, illegal! An illegal and unauthorized conversion of funds is a criminal offense in most if not all states. If I give you X amount of money to do Y but instead you funnel it to your mistress, you think it is not a crime? Are you suggesting an exception for donk pols who can’t keep it in their pants??

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 11:55 AM

So if I give a homeless guy $5 to buy a burger and he instead buys a pack of cigarettes then off to the gallows with him?

Again, not disputing the ethical issue, but rather the spectre of a government telling a private concern how donations must be spent on pain of death. If the concern is to “protect” donors or potential donors, then I fail to see how publicly revealing where donated funds went doesn’t serve the purpose. If a guy gives money to another guy knowing he has a history of using funds to pay off his mistresses, well, caveat emptor.

Don’t like Edwards, but that doesn’t mean I think he should be thrown in jail, especially if the pretext for throwing him in jail is worse than the behavior it’s supposed to guard against.

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Who read Newsbusters coverage of Tingles Matthews show? Tingles and Joe Klein used the “nobody cares!” Clintonian defense, and a female reporter from the New York Times and a female reporter from CNN were both “John What Edwards Who”?

Marcus on May 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM

So if I give a homeless guy $5 to buy a burger and he instead buys a pack of cigarettes then off to the gallows with him?

The homeless guy isn’t getting matching funds from the government for everything he bring in, or at least in most parts of the country besides San Francisco.

As part of taking outside contributions for a federal political campaign, you have to sign statements that the money came from legitimate sources, was capped at a certain amount per donor, and went for approved activities.

Lying about how much you received from someone typically just gets you a fine. Lying about what you spent it on gets you time in Federal PMITA Prison.

teke184 on May 31, 2011 at 12:06 PM

[teke184 on May 31, 2011 at 11:58 AM]

A nice point and you’re right as far as true self-funding goes. I’d note, however, that most, if not all, self funders don’t really self fund. I’m no expert, but it seems to me the common procedure is to set up the self funding as a loan to campaigns and then they pay themselves back, with interest, with the expectation that contributions pay them back.

How it falls out if the contributions don’t exceed the loan, how long they have to settle all accounts if that happens, and how it gets closed out, I have no idea.

Dusty on May 31, 2011 at 12:07 PM

So if I give a homeless guy $5 to buy a burger and he instead buys a pack of cigarettes then off to the gallows with him?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:01 PM

We’re not talking about a mere 5 bucks now are we?

A number of people make donations amounting to more than $100k to hire a lobbyist and instead the guy takes it to Vegas and blows it on gambling and hookers? Think that is a crime?

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Again, not disputing the ethical issue, but rather the spectre of a government telling a private concern how donations must be spent on pain of death.

[JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:01 PM]

???? He’s facing a potential capital punishment sentence?

Your exaggeration to the extreme and your comparisons to duplicitous cigarette money panhandlers shows you’re not a serious person.

Dusty on May 31, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Who read Newsbusters coverage of Tingles Matthews show? Tingles and Joe Klein used the “nobody cares!” Clintonian defense, and a female reporter from the New York Times and a female reporter from CNN were both “John What Edwards Who”?

Marcus on May 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM

A lot of other people’s money was spent on hiding Hunter – very expensive condos in Ventura, private jets out of the country when the media was hot on her trail, etc. We’re talking about millions of dollars.

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Marcus on May 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM

I think Edwards has now been thrown under the bus. lol!

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 12:13 PM

My understanding is that the transactions covering up his mistress didn’t come out of campaign funds per se, but rather were drawn from Mellon’s “gift.” Hence my concern that campaign finance laws are being used to criminalize this behavior by calling Mellon’s “gift” an illegal campaign donation.

Put another way…suppose at this lunch Edwards told Mellon flat out “hey, I need a million bucks to make this mistress thing go away.” Should that be illegal, even under campaign finance laws?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:15 PM

We’re not talking about a mere 5 bucks now are we?

A number of people make donations amounting to more than $100k to hire a lobbyist and instead the guy takes it to Vegas and blows it on gambling and hookers? Think that is a crime?

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 12:10 PM

OK, what’s the dollar amount threshold to make it a crime?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:15 PM

???? He’s facing a potential capital punishment sentence?

Your exaggeration to the extreme and your comparisons to duplicitous cigarette money panhandlers shows you’re not a serious person.

Dusty on May 31, 2011 at 12:12 PM

As if rhetorical flourishes at HotAir are totally unknown. Hey, crr6 posts here…that’s all I should have to say.

I was apparently unclear in parroting the Libertarian logic process where all laws are enacted under pain of death. You break a law, you get arrested, you go to jail, you try to escape jail, you get shot.

I’d say failure to worry about overreaching campaign finance laws because they are burning a person many (me included) see as odious betrays a certain lack of seriousness as well, but then I’m not as well versed in the ad hom as some here, evidently. :)

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:18 PM

OK, what’s the dollar amount threshold to make it a crime?

JohnTant on May 31, 2011 at 12:15 PM

That would depend on the laws in your jurisdiction. But, I assure you that 100k is more than enough to meet the threshold in any jurisdiction.

Blake on May 31, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Wouldnt the DoJ or the prosecutors review Bunny’s books to see if she listed it as a campaign contrinution or not?

I have a funny feeling – the IRS is being used as a threat behind the scenes and her lawyers may be running interference, hence the “want” for a plea bargain.

Its real simple – was the money tagged and written off as a donation/political/personal, etc.

Odie1941 on May 31, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Homewrecking sluts hardest hit.

slickwillie2001 on May 31, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Edwards may be a slimeball but he is also a fat cat attorney who knows how to slither his way around the law. Maybe he took Bunny to lunch to see if she would fund whatever came out of a plea agreement. Maybe he’s in dire financial straits after his fling with the little strumpet, er, videographer.

scalleywag on May 31, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Still nothing about the New Black Panters? Oh riiiiiiiiiight. They’re Holders people. No indictments there. Hmmmmmmmmmmm

capejasmine on May 31, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Sorry that I’ve fallen behind on reading the tabloids, but are Johnny and Rielle still an item? Or was she thrown under the bus when this broke?

BitterClinger on May 31, 2011 at 1:38 PM

He’s about to meet the lesser of the 2 Americas- the hard way. Of course, he’ll be facing the other direction.

Chuck Schick on May 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Just have to say that reading/listening to the LSM whining about being treated like “paparazzi” and being equated with TMZ and morons, this right here is the poster child of why that is. The National Enquirer had to do their jobs.

I’ll believe them over anything the NYT has to say.

kim roy on May 31, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Man, we dodge a bullet when Kerry and this guy lost. What a slime ball.

NickDeringer on May 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Of course, this won’t stop the media from taking Kerry seriously every time he opens his brain-dead yap.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Remember when the story first broke? The theme was, “How much time would he need before he could return to politics?”

MSM. Doing the job Science Fiction writers won’t.

hawkdriver on May 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Frankly, I’m amazed this ever saw the light of day.

I’m even MORE amazed it’s gotten to the point of an indictment. Not because the fraud doesn’t deserve it, but because he’s a democrat.

Now, let’s all imagine if this had been perpetrated by the REPUBLICAN vice presidential nominee from 2004. I’m betting he would have been in prison long enough to be eligible for (and be denied) parole….several times.

Oh, and JohnTant, if you or anyone else actually believes the weasel will spend one single minute behind bars, you haven’t been watching. Or listening. Or breathing.

runawayyyy on May 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM