You may have read about the recent indictment of former presidential candidate John Edwards. The general allegations claim that he illegally used campaign funds (to the tune of $925,000) to fund the cover-up and support of his affair and child-fathering activities with a woman by the name of Rielle Hunter. Under Federal Law (called the “Election Act”), it is illegal for anyone to donate more than $2,300.00 to a federal candidate in a primary election in 2008, and all contributions of any amount must be reported. A violation of the Election Act is a federal crime. Interestingly, the allegations do not claim that checks were written out of the campaign checking account. Instead, the allegations claim that two wealthy supporters of Edwards gave $725,000.00 and $200,000.00 (respectively), outside of any deposits into the Edwards’ campaign coffers. Instead, those donors gave the money directly to the effort to keep the Hunter matter quiet (and to keep the “family man” image of Edwards alive). If Edwards was not a candidate for federal office, these cover-up payments would not be illegal. However, it is alleged that these payments were made solely under the proverbial table to assist Edwards’ campaign by hiding the scandal from the public eye. Under federal law, any money used to advance the campaign effort is subject to reporting and the $2,300.00 limit.
Rumor has it Edwards could not reach a plea deal that did not include jail time.
Many legal scholars feel that this is a new or unique use of the Election Act. There are sure to be a number of pretrial motions filed by the defense team claiming that the Edwards indictment is an improper use (or stretch) of the reporting requirement and $2,300 limit in the Election Act. We will continue to monitor this case for our readers.