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Tara Malloy, senior counsel at The Campaign Legal Center, explains the charges against former presidential candidate John ...
Edwards and the legal challenges ahead for government prosecutors. (April 23)
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[Notes:WASHINGTON. SOURCE: AP 4/23/12][Notes:SOT: TARA MALLOY - Senior Counsel, The Campaign Legal Center]At the heart of this case is whether almost one million dollars of payments made to benefit Edwards by essentially allowing that Rielle Hunter, his mistress, would be cared for, should be considered a personal gift to Edwards or a campaign contribution to his presidential campaign in 2008. They have to prove most basically that it was a contribution. And here there is no allegation as far as Im aware that Edwards personally, physically received the checks. So instead, the government will have to show that Ms. Mallon, one of his benefactors, coordinated her expenditures with Edwards. That means, first, it had to be an expenditure under the law, secondly, they have to show that the expenditure was coordinated with Edwards, that it wasn't completely done without his knowledge or cooperation. So these two elements they have to show in order to prove that his campaign took this contribution in violation of federal law. More specifically the problem is that under federal law, a campaign can only accept a very limited contribution of under 3-thousand dollars. And here we're talking about over 700-thousand just from Ms. Mellon alone. So that was one problem. The second problem is of course that the Edwards campaign did not reveal or disclose as they were required to under the law, these payments. No doubt because they wanted to keep this entire affair secret, but nonetheless there are two big potential violations of campaign finance law. I think this is going to be, as I said, a tough job for the government. You know, a lot of legal commentators have said that this is a distortion of campaign finance law or that this is something questionable about the actual legal theory. I dont think the legal theory is questionable. It's fairly established that a coordinated expenditure with the campaign constitutes a contribution under federal campaign finance law. However, the difficulty here is going to be compiling the evidence necessary to prove that this type of payment was indeed for campaign purposes. (****END****) ANCHOR VOICE: -------------------------VIDEO PRODUCER: matt friedman---------------------------VIDEO SOURCE: ap