According to multiple news sources, the Department of Justice has green-lighted the prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards for allegedly violating campaign finance laws while trying to cover up an affair.
Edwards has been the focus of a lengthy federal investigation that focused on hundreds of thousands of dollars that two wealthy supporters gave that were funneled to Rielle Hunter. Hunter was a campaign videographer who became Edwards’ mistress and ultimately had his daughter.
Edwards is reportedly considering all actions, including accepting a plea bargain versus facing a potentially costly trial.
Should the case to go trial it would be the government’s burden to prove that the intent of the donations was to cover-up the affair so that Edwards could continue his pursuit of the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.
Edwards has tried to keep a low profile since admitting paternity and his public separation from his wife Elizabeth. Throughout the reports Edwards has insisted that he broke no laws, despite the fact that a former campaign aide initially claimed paternity of Hunter’s child and backed up Edwards’ claims that no campaign money went to keep Hunter quiet.
Given the intense media scrutiny a trial will bring it is likely that Edwards will accept a plea if offered. And while it is important to prosecute all crimes, frankly, the Department of Justice has much larger corruption investigations to focus on. But as this affair and the Ensign matter has made crystal clear, powerful men have no qualms abusing that power to satisfy whatever impulses they may have. They do have a much more difficult time accepting responsibility for the fallout after though.
photo courtesy of alexdecarvalho via Flickr