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Edwards' Indictment Raises Questions about What Constitutes a Campaign Contribution
New Rochelle, NY, June 10, 2011-As former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards faces federal charges for alleged misuse of campaign funds, many are wondering if a crime was actually committed and how the case will play out. Edwards is accused of soliciting nearly one million dollars from political donors, which he used to support and hide his pregnant mistress from public view. Because Edwards was a nominee at the time, the government alleges that under federal election law, these transfers were a campaign contribution, intended to help his campaign. Daniel P. Tokaji, JD, Co-Editor of Election Law Journal, The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law, believes the case presents important legal questions about what counts as a campaign contribution under federal law.
"What John Edwards did was clearly wrong. It's much less clear that what he did was illegal, and it's not at all clear that the criminal charges under federal campaign finance law will stick," says Professor Tokaji. "Edwards can be expected to argue that his purposes (at least in part) were to protect his reputation and prevent his wife from learning of the affair and pregnancy. He can also be expected to argue that, even if the transfers were campaign contributions, he lacked the requisite intent to be criminally convicted."
Election Law Journal is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published quarterly in print and online. The Journal covers the emerging specialty of election law for practicing attorneys, election administrators, political professionals, legal scholars, and social scientists, and covers election design and reform on the federal, state, and local levels in the U.S. and in 75 countries around the world. Complete tables of content and a free sample issue may be viewed online.