John Edwards, the Southern-drawled narcissist, has taken great pains to position himself as the anti-lobbyist “change” candidate. A careful review of the record makes those claims deceptive at best, and bald-faced lies at worst. Johnnypeepers took interest in Edward’s endless stream of substance-free Populist soap-box pronouncements and decided to do a little digging.
First, a little background is in order. There is an ongoing problem with the bundling of individual campaign donations. This is the practice of campaign agents reimbursing friends, family members, and associates for their donations to a particular politician. The most famous recent culprit is Normie “Choo-Choo” Hsu. Choo-Choo got popped for bundling and tried to take his life during a desperate flee from justice on an Amtrak train (he was found sprawled on the floor with a number of pills scattered about in a confused state). He was bundling huge amounts of cash for none other than everyone’s favorite ethical agent of change, Hillary Clinton. Now Choo-Choo is headed to prison. I suspect he will be dead soon – he knows far too much about a particular couple.
John Edwards has a history of accepting massive campaign donations from trial lawyers (a powerfully entrenched lobbying entity). Fund raisers at law firms represent at least 54% of his bundlers (classified by the Edwards campaign as anyone who raises money outside of their family). I would love to hear Edward’s argument that law firms (especially tort practitioners) do not constitute a lobbying interest.
Currently, Edwards has raised over 8 million dollars (out of a total of 21 million) from attorneys and law firms. Based on these records from his 2004 election campaign, they were Edwards largest bloc of contributors giving $11,557,399. According to this article:
The Edwards presidential campaign last year paid a $9,500 civil penalty to the Federal Election Commission after the FEC found that the campaign accepted free fundraising help from an Arkansas trial lawyer, Tab Turner, as well as contributions made by Turner in the name of his brother and sister-in-law. Turner paid a $50,000 civil penalty for the in-kind and financial contributions.
While Edwards was busy excoriating the “corroded and corrupt” Washington system of receiving lobbying and special interest money, he was pocketing bundled donations from William S. Lerach (a fellow class-action attorney). Lerach, who donated $78,000 to Edwards, agreed to plea deal from Federal prosecutors on a conspiracy charge.
Another famous litigator, Geoffrey Feiger (Jack Kevorkian’s defense counsel) has been indicted for channeling more than $125,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the Edwards campaign. The Edwards campaign has chosen not to return these contributions.
Edwards has also received trial attorney (lobbyist) support in the form of the discounted rates for private jet air travel. Edwards has paid Fred Baron (his tort law buddy) $234,000 to fly in his rich man’s taxi, while Hillary Clinton has doled out over a million for similar transport. You see, the fortunate half of the dos Americas gets to murder the environment at discounted rates, especially if you have a rich lawyer pal who pimps out his sky-ride to you.
Edwards often lambasts the evil rich for using offshore tax shelters to shield their wealth. Yet, in 2004, Edward’s third largest contributors were Securities/investment interests that gave $517,750. In 2005, Edwards took a paid consulting position with Fortress Investment Group, a hedge fund with 30 billion dollars of assets. Fortress recommends the offshore placement of assets to avoid tax liability. Why did Edwards (the supposed Populist defender of the little man) take a paid job with a firm that specializes in shielding assets to benefit the wealthy?
Interestingly, neither Edwards or Fortress will disclose the amount of compensation he received for his work. Also, Fortress employees have donated $167,460 to Edward’s 2008 campaign, “his largest source of support from a single company.” Edwards perpetually lambastes the evil corporations and the rich while championing his empty dos Americas rhetoric. The fact that he directly benefited from capitalist free-market wealth aggregators like Fortress should be troubling to those who have fallen prey to his class-warfare jingoism.
Several months ago, Edwards took a principled stand demanding that Democrat candidates return all donations from News Corp. and other Rupert Murdoch interests. I reckon Edwards left himself a personal exemption, because he has received over $800,000 from a News Corp. owned company for his book, Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives. Although Eric Schultz (Edward’s spokesman) claimed that the candidate would give proceeds from the book to charity, Schultz conveniently declined the offer to show proof of the donation. According to Edwards:
The time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democrat party.
Stop being friends with these enemies maybe, but not profiting from their lucrative book deals.
Edwards also likes to make empty promises to his supporters knowing that they would be impossible (and unconstitutional) to implement. Edwards claimed in television ads, and on the campaign stump, that if Congress did not act within six months to provide all Americans with health care, he would take away their Congressional plan coverage. Here was his warning to Congress:
I’m going to use my power as President to take health care away from you.
One little problem Goldie-locks, you couldn’t do that if you wanted to, and you know it. His claim was a deceptive ploy to convince people to vote for him by making empty threats. Edwards made this claim knowing that very few of his supporters are as well-versed in the Constitutional limitations on Executive authority (e.g., Separation of Powers) as he is. Whatever it takes to get the precious votes, eh Johnny?
John Edwards likes to use his political power to bypass supply and demand purchasing constraints that everyday Americans face.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that a staff member for former Sen. John Edwards — a vocal critic of the retailer — asked his local Wal-Mart store for help in getting the potential 2008 presidential candidate a Sony PlayStation 3. Edwards told The AP that the volunteer “feels terrible” about seeking the game unit at Wal-Mart a day after his boss criticized the company, saying it doesn’t treat its employees fairly.
Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he’d never told anyone else — that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he’d do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade’s ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before — and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn’t pick Edwards unless he met with him again.
John Edwards likes to flaunt his disrespect for the common man by wiping snot on them.
Gee, I wonder why Dennis Kucinich instructed his supporters to caucus for Obama instead of Edwards in Iowa. Maybe he knows something that Edward’s supporters do not. Namely, Edwards is not only a fraud, but a slick embodiment of the corrupt Washington status quo. Yeah, that about sums it up I think.
Note: I am not going to get into the New-Age Hippy-Dippy love-child story, or Edward’s implicit acknowledgment of forcing violent rib-breaking sex on his poor ill wife, this is a family blog after all.
The test for being president is are you the best person to occupy the Oval Office and be the leader of the free world? Because literally the future of the world is at stake here. – John Edwards
Right you are Johnny, right you are.
Update – 2/8/08
Barak Obama had this to say about his fellow Democratic presidential candidate:
John yesterday said that he didn’t believe in 527s – He said he’s opposed to them – we found out today that there is an outside group spending $750,000- – just bought three quarters of a million dollars worth of television time – and the individual who’s running the group used to be John Edwards’s campaign manager. So you can’t say yesterday you don’t believe in ’em, and today you have three quarters of a million dollars being spent for you. You can’t just talk the talk.
I don’t just talk the talk, I’ve walked the walk, I’ve been doing this all my life and John does not have the same record.