A Defense Of John Edwards

It comes from Mickey Kaus!

Here is the problem I have with indicting John Edwards:  Apparently the prosecutors’ idea is that if Edwards used money from “Bunny” Mellon and others to keep his mistress stashed away and quiet, this was really a campaign expense and should have been paid for out of campaign funds. But suppose Edwards had paid for it with campaign funds. Don’t you think prosecutors would now be thinking of indicting him for an improper use of campaign funds?  (You can’t pay for most meals using campaign funds. You can’t buy mittens with campaign funds. Are mistresses going to OK?)

If you’re going to enact a criminal law which requires such squirrelly distinctions–including an absurd attempt to figure out what part of a politician’s life isn’t related to getting him or her elected–the only way to save it, it seems to me, is to cut people a lot of slack when it comes to applying it.  That’s especially true when it comes to laws regulating the core democratic practice of running for office. Otherwise you wind up with what lawyers like to call a “chilling effect”–chilling in that it will prevent candidates from doing lots of things that should be legal, chilling in that it will deter non-insiders from running.