John Edwards – Guilty before trial! What happened to our system of Justice?

As news of the indictment of John Edwards hit the wire I began to hear many people speak of joy and hope that he would be punished!  Comments like, “Well, I’m glad.  For too long those with money and power seem to get away with their crimes.”  Yet others said, “Look what he did to his poor wife, he deserves whatever punishment he gets!”

As I heard those words I began to wonder what has happened to our system of justice 0r maybe better asked, what has happened to our moral compassion?  Did John Edwards do wrong?  Well, he says he did, but regarding the consequence, seems to me that’s for the legal system to decide…yet, what I do know is that Every Choice Has A Consequence.  John Edwards choices are leading to the consequences he is facing today.

Pleading NOT GUILTY to a federal grand jury indictment on six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws, John Edwards, former Democratic vice presidential nominee and two-time presidential candidate, acknowledged that he had “done wrong,” but denied breaking the law.

“There’s no question that I’ve done wrong,” Edwards told reporters. “But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law.”

I understand Edwards comments…I really get the truth in what he is saying.  Yet, “ever thinking about breaking the law” and breaking the law are two different things.  As a convicted felon (not proud of that fact, but it is a fact), I never thought I was doing wrong until I had to face the truth and see that the illusion I created was in fact nothing more than an elaborate lie – the truth was I was then (not now) a liar and a thief.  Perhaps now Edwards is coming to see reality – not the illusion he lived under for so long.

Released on his own recognizance, Edwards was ordered to surrender his passport and remain within the lower 48 states and if convicted on all counts, Edwards would face up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

THE ILLUSION?

The question is whether money given to support Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, by benefactors of Edwards should have been considered campaign donations, a contention Edwards’ team has disputed.  Here is the foundation of the illusion.  Is it possible that cover up (some $900,000) money given for a person running a public campaign can be anything other than a campaign donation?

A CNN Report states the following:

While prosecutors believe the monetary help given to Hunter by two of Edwards’ political backers should have been considered campaign donations, Edwards’ attorneys disagree.

“This is an unprecedented prosecution,” Craig said. “No one would have known or could be expected to know that these payments would be treated as campaign contributions, and there is no way Senator Edwards knew that fact either.”

Craig said the government’s theory of the case “is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”

The government is believed to be building its case that Edwards violated campaign finance law based on an 11-year-old advisory opinion issued by the Federal Election Commission, which asserted that a gift to a candidate for federal office would be considered a campaign contribution, a source with knowledge of the inquiry told CNN this week.

The decision, dated June 14, 2000, is known as “Harvey.” It’s named after a man named Phillip Harvey who sought guidance from the FEC because he wanted to give money to someone who was preparing to run for federal office, but didn’t want the money to be used for campaign purposes.

The opinion is important because Hunter received more than $1 million from two contributors, 100-year-old philanthropist Rachel “Bunny” Mellon of Virginia and attorney Fred Baron, who has since died.

Edwards’ attorneys have said that the payments were not and should not be considered political contributions. If they weren’t political contributions, what were they? The most widely reported theory — which the Edwards team has publicly neither confirmed nor denied — is that the money was given to keep Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, from finding out about his mistress and child.

The source with knowledge of the inner workings of the case and other legal observers have noted that the Harvey advisory opinion is shaky ground to base a federal prosecution on because it is not a black-letter federal statute, and apparently has not been cited in any important case law, or as legal authority behind any important court decisions.

Some experts have said the Justice Department will have a strong case in court if it can prove Edwards knew about the funds and what they were being used for — a contention he has denied.

WHERE FROM HERE?

John Edwards has made choices – the consequences he must now face.  The only issue I have (at least for the moment) is why we – the general public – are so willing to seal his fate and find joy in his indictment, conviction and punishment?  Is it possible that those who so quickly point fingers are unwilling to look in the mirror and see the illusions that they work hard to maintain?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

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3 Responses to John Edwards – Guilty before trial! What happened to our system of Justice?

  1. jonolan says:

    I don’t see how such monies given to Edwards during his campaign so that he could “hush up” his mistress could be thought of as anything other than campaign contributions.

    After all, her silence was critical to his campaign.

    On the other hand, are you speaking of justice or the law? It’s possible that legally those donations could be considered other than campaign funds depending upon the paperwork filed.

  2. […] While most looking at this blog already have some background into John Edwards’ story – here’s a recent post that can be used to fill you in:  https://chuckgallagher.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/john-edwards-guilty-before-trial-what-happened-to-our… […]

  3. […] As a ethics speaker, I’ve previously said – John Edwards is rolling the dice on this one!  A prior blog with more detailed information is here. […]

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