Civitas Review

Attorneys reveal arguments in Edwards trial


Motions filed yesterday by defense attorneys for John Edwards are asking a judge to dismiss federal charges against the former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.  The documents also give court observers insight into the strategy Edwards’ lawyers will likely use to lead his defense.

At issue is whether Edwards violated campaign finance laws when he secretly obtained money from two wealthy supporters to hide an affair and subsequent pregnancy with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer, during an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2008.

Government prosecutors will argue that donations to hide the affair were campaign contributions and made to keep his presidential campaign afloat.  The contributions also exceeded campaign limits.

Documents filed by  Edwards’ attorneys on Tuesday paint a far different picture. Attorneys say that payments to Hunter were for personal expenses and cannot be deemed campaign-related simply because they were paid by wealthy benefactors.

Attorneys also contend that even though the campaign received checks totally $375,000 in December 2007 and January 2008 the checks were not deposited in accounts until after Edwards had ended his campaign.

A grand jury indicted Edwards in June of this year of one count of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC); four counts of accepting and receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of concealing those donations from the FEC. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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