More Attention Beng Paid To Questions Regarding Edwards Fund Raising

The Carpetbagger Report questions if Edwards has a problem due to having decided to accept federal matching funds, along with the limitations on spending, and reviews the problems. Steve links to an excellent analysis from Kos, which I’ve also cited in the past, that demonstrates the problems from a fund raising perspective. It is becoming apparent that the problems go beyond this. Edwards’ plans to attempt to circumvent these problems at very least raise further questions as to his integrity as he attacks other Democrats claiming to be holier than anyone else on fund raising. At worse there may be violations of laws regarding coordination between his campaign and 527 groups.

I’ve noted some of the questions regarding Edwards’ fund raising in several posts, most recently here.  Writing at The Hill’s Pundit Blog, Peter Fenn reviews some of these issues in a post entitled, Edwards: Too Cute by Half. Normally I would just provide an excerpt from a post such as this but in this case it is important to read the entire post. For those who might not follow the link I’ll reprint it under the fold and hope the author would see this exception more as flattery than a violation of intellectual property rights.
Edwards: Too Cute by Half (Peter Fenn)

John Edwards may very well win Iowa. He has a strong organization, four years in the making, and a message that goes to the anger and frustration of many voters.

His central theme is that Washington is corrupt. Lobbyists and money control the process. He alone can fight it and fix it.

Even if you accept that this rather over-arching, simplistic notion has some merit, Edwards is probably not the best one to be making the argument.

After all, he is the recipient of over $6.5 million in trial lawyer money by July of this year alone, and he and his surrogate organizations, One America and Alliance for America, respectively, took over $750,000 from one donor (“Bunny” Mellon, a descendant of the Mellon family of whom Edwards recently spoke disparagingly as part of the “Gilded Age” of America, though he has since dropped the reference). And, as we know, he never attempted to change the system as a senator.

Most important, he decided to take federal matching funds on Oct. 8, precisely when he knew that an independent group, run by his friend and former campaign manager, Nick Baldick, was poised to spend millions on his behalf in Iowa and New Hampshire. Lobbyist money. Independent expenditures. Special interests, as he defines them.

Not only did John Edwards fail to stop the questionable special interest activity, it appears that he was counting on it as part of his strategy to win Iowa.

These 527 organizations are part of the political landscape for both parties. They exist. They are legal.

What I object to is the self-righteous quality of the Edwards campaign and the hypocrisy of taking the money while railing against the very practice he is embracing — and making “the corrupt system” the very centerpiece of the campaign! He is pretending to “bite the hand that feeds him.”

Here is Mike Glover’s AP story from Dec. 31, 2007. Judge for yourself:

Edwards has been getting more than $2 million in help from labor-backed independent groups that have drawn criticism from watchdog organizations and from Obama in particular. The groups, called “527″ organizations for the section of the IRS code that authorizes them, have been running ads supporting Edwards’ policies in Iowa during the closing days of the campaign.

Appearing on CBS’ “Early Show” Monday, Edwards said he has no control over those organizations — one of which is run by Nick Baldick, a Democratic strategist who managed Edwards’s 2004 campaign.

“It’s my understanding that the guy who runs the organization worked for me years ago. Yes, that is true,” Edwards said when asked about the connection.

Edwards’ campaign retained Baldick’s firm earlier this year to provide political strategy consulting. Edwards spokesman Eric Shultz said Edwards was referring to Baldick’s role as campaign manager in 2004.

Good grief. This response from Edwards stretches one’s patience — “the guy worked for me years ago”??? Come on, John, this smells — and it runs totally counter to what you say you are campaigning against. You could have stopped it with one phone call. You could have prevented it from happening months ago when you knew what they were up to in October. But instead you dialed up the rhetoric on the other candidates and how they were examples of Washington corruption but argued you were clean precisely when your campaign was hatching the plot to pour millions into a separate, special-interest media blitz.

If the system is so wrong, John, why did you play it? If you are so opposed to special interests and lobbyists, why did you take their money, millions of it? It all sounds pretty cynical to me, really, and not the kind of campaign you ran in 2004 or the kind of campaign you started to run earlier this year.

This may get you through Iowa but, in the end, you will box yourself in and you will get called on it.

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