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The Edwards Affair By Robin Barnes

John EdwardsAfter prolonged and repeated stalking by the paparazzi and scandalous tabloid headlines, public media outlets seemed delighted to report that former vice Presidential candidate John Edwards has been indicted. He plead not guilty to six criminal counts on charges of election finance fraud, receipt of illegal contributions, conspiracy to solicit large donations from two supporters, and making false statements.

One wealthy benefactor contributed $725,000 and another gave $200,000. Lawyers for Edwards argue that donors were not solicited for the purpose of influencing an election for federal office, but to save his terminally ill wife from more outrageous attacks on the couples privacy and familial dignity. The litmus test seems to be whether the money used for Edwards’ personal expenses would have been given irrespective of his candidacy.

Prospective jurors were asked their opinions of Mr. Edwards, their views on adultery, and their political leanings. Similar to the media coverage of the affair, none of these issues relate to issues of justice and fairness in democracy, nor has the case sparked any meaningful debate about campaign finance laws in general. It also failed to address the question of why Edwards was arrested so long after the alleged conspiracy took place. The former Senator faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.