As the disgraced former presidential candidate John Edwards prepares for trial on criminal charges of accepting nearly $1 million in illegal contributions during the 2008 Democratic race, consider what his two election-law experts are prepared to concede.
Much of it is indisputably, painfully true: That Edwards was a cad, a purported family man who cheated on his wife as she was dying of cancer. That he did so with a certain juvenile glee, even letting his paramour, a New Age videographer named Rielle Hunter, tape one of their sexual encounters. That he was a serial liar, repeatedly and huffily insisting to his wife and the American public that such reports were “tabloid trash,” that he’d had a fling rather than a two-year -affair, that the resulting baby girl wasn’t his handiwork but that of a pathologically -sycophantic aide.
The two experts, Scott Thomas and Robert Lenhard, also concede, simply for the sake of legal argument, some points still in dispute: that Edwards had asked two wealthy benefactors—heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and his finance chair, Fred Baron—for hundreds of thousands of dollars to squirrel away Hunter from the press, with Mellon sending checks, hidden in chocolate boxes and ostensibly for antiques, that were quickly signed over to Edwards’s aide.
Still, the Edwards legal team contends, he violated no laws. …
This reminds me of a wise sage’s assessment of the case against the former North Carolina senator: “I think he’s a reprehensible person. But not every scum or liar or reprehensible person is a criminal.”