Friday, June 03, 2011
[Update, 6 June. 4.40pm: And, in another intersection between the Edwards affair and the fringes of the lacrosse case, check out this sensational co-authored piece by Joe Neff, detailing the plea bargain negotiations between the Edwards team and the Justice Department.]
Former North Carolina senator and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted today, on six counts related to his cover-up of an affair with a campaign aide. The charges were filed in the Middle District of North Carolina, and so it's little surprise that Edwards has reached out to the area's best criminal defense attorneys: both Wade Smith and Jim Cooney are members of the Edwards defense team. Cooney told American Lawyer that he took the case in part because of his longstanding ties to Edwards, dating from the time when Edwards was among the state's leading plaintiffs' attorneys.
Though Edwards' behavior was undeniably unethical (he arranged for massive payments from a 96-year-old wealthy friend and donor to his mistress, all while publicly denying the affair and the woman's resulting pregnancy), it might not have been illegal. In any event, the prosecution will be a precedent-setter, one way or the other.
This is, by the way, the second occasion in which the Edwards campaign intersected with the fringes of the lacrosse case. In 2004, during his first presidential bid, Edwards ran as a Southern moderate. But in 2008, he reinvented himself as a far-left, anti-poverty crusader. As part of this effort, in early 2007, the Edwards campaign hired as its official blogger Amanda Marcotte, known for her intemperate rhetoric and extremist views.
Though Edwards, a North Carolinian and former law partner of Wade Smith, had remained silent on the lacrosse case, Marcotte had lots to say. Among her insights: "Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it?"
Once her words attracted public attention, Marcotte deleted them from her blog.
Marcotte eventually departed the Edwards campaign after an outcry over her anti-religious rants. And, of course, Edwards eventually departed the presidential race, after losing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then getting crushed in Nevada and South Carolina.