Guilt By Association Day: Joe Trippi And A Bad Nigerian Politician

Did Edwards senior adviser Joe Trippi really work for a "corrupt" Nigerian politican at the same time he worked for John Edwards?

No. He worked for a "corrupt" Nigerian politican right before he worked for John Edwards.

Today's Washington Post reports that:

In other Edwards news, a senior adviser, Joe Trippi, was a political consultant to a Nigerian vice president who was allegedly the intended recipient of a $90,000 bribe from Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), who was indicted this week.

According to a filing with the Justice Department, Trippi was paid $20,000 as a consultant to then-Vice President Atiku Abubakar in his failed campaign to become Nigeria's president this spring. According to the newspaper the Hill, Trippi devised a text-messaging campaign for him and his party, the Action Congress.

Eric Schultz, an Edwards spokesman, said: "This has nothing to do with the campaign. Joe worked for him before John Edwards was running for president."

Abubakar is not a good guy -- he was, by some accounts, fairly brutal, allegedly bribable and mean, acturally, but in the recent Nigerian elections, he was more or less robbed of his chance to participate.

He hired Trippi to help him campaign.

Nigeria has about ten times as many cell phone exchanges as it does landlines, and so Trippi worked with the campaign team to design a text message campaign. "The torch of democracy rests in your hands" was one of their slogans. More background is here for you Douthat-Yglesias-Sullivan types. A few weeks before the election, the government kicked Abubakar off the ballot. And Abukakar's senior campaign staff was arrested, charged by the government with inciting and planning acts of terrorism.

By happenstance, Trippi was caught on the telephone on April 9 in Philadelphia talking to a Nigeran.

"I called to see of Atiku was ok, asking if they knew where he was, is he all right?"

By the time Trippi decided to work for John Edwards -- April 19 -- Atiku was not on the ballot and Trippi's association with him had ended.

"I guess you can split massive hairs if you want to say that I worked for Atiku while Edwards was running for president, but I didn't do it for them both at the same time," Trippi said.

"I have no idea where the ten thousands dollars in freezer cash is," Trippi joked.