John Edwards has certainty fallen from grace. Once he was a shiny presidential hopeful. However, revelations that he had a love child while his wife was dying of cancer shattered his carefully crafted image. Now he is facing indictment for allegedly misusing funds.
The state alleges that Edwards took almost $1 million to hide the affair and thus “protect and advance” his presidential campaign. Edwards’ defense is that the money was not actually intended to be used in the campaign but was a gift intended to hide the affair from his cancer stricken wife. This is certainly an interesting defense and can be seen as having some degree of plausibility. Given this defense, the prosecution has to show that the money was used in a way that violated campaign laws. After all, while spending money to hide an affair from his wife is clearly immoral, it need not be illegal.
Naturally, I am inclined to side with the prosecution. The idea that his friends forked over stacks of cash to hide the affair from his wife and not to protect his presidential bid seems rather implausible. However, to make the criminal case stick the prosecution need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Edwards intentionally violated campaign laws. Unfortunately for the prosecution, it is possible that his friends did in fact put up the money to hide the affair from his wife. While this also protected his campaign, this would be a side effect rather than the direct intent. And that seems to make a rather significant difference. I suspect that the prosecution will have a hard time making its case.
I am, however, glad that the case is being brought against Edwards. While campaign contributions and spending are a swamp of endless corruption, I do approve of attempts (however feeble) to cut away some of the rot. That said, going after Edwards is a rather small thing and leaves the horrific system of campaign financing intact. No one seems willing to take on that beast, mainly because the politicians all grow fat upon its monstrous breast.