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Inconvenient Money Men

VIDEO: Edwards Camp Hits Clinton Again

I hate this stuff. Campaign money drama details don’t interest me at all.
One may run with a crowd a bit sleazier than another, but if you ask me it’s
splitting hairs and until we decide that public financing of elections is worth
fighting for this discussion is just silly. As long as it’s transparent and
legal, this is the way our system works right now. As far as the candidates go,
on money, they’re all a wash to me.

So today on “Hardball” the Edwards team hit Clinton hard again on
her financing train, especially her 9/11 fundraiser. Trippi’s decided that the corporate lobbying tango of candidate
Clinton is a righteous fight and is going to make the difference. I think he’s
dreaming, but it’s all he’s got, I guess. Matthews asked Edwards about his trial
lawyer money and their interests being served through Edwards. Bonior’s response:
Clinton is worse. What didn’t help Clinton’s side is that at the last minute,
according to Matthews, Sheila Jackson Leigh, who’s on Clinton’s team, bailed
on the appearance. There was no reason given so it just looked weasely.

But the timing for this latest salvo from team Edwards could not have been worse.

At the same time David Bonior was ripping the Clinton camp for alleged corruption
in their campaign funding, Edwards’s big time bundler pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Getting caught in your own sanctimony has got to suck.


Though his former law firm came under indictment more than a year ago and
he himself appeared likely to face criminal charges, prominent trial lawyer
William S. Lerach slipped past the vetting of John Edwards’ presidential campaign
and was permitted to raise large amounts of money for the Democrat’s 2008
bid.

Lerach, his family and members of his new law Lerach Coughlin law firm accounted
for nearly $78,000 in donations to Edwards’ campaign in the first half of
this year, making the trial lawyer one of the North Carolina Democrat’s leading
“bundlers” of contributions.

In the midst of that fundraising, Lerach negotiated behind the scenes for
a plea deal that was consummated on Tuesday and will send him to federal prison
for at least 12 months on a conspiracy charge involving his past legal work
as partner in the Milberg Weiss law firm.

Through it all, Edwards stood by his fellow trial lawyer and even took an
action this spring that was helpful to his longtime financial supporter in
a government matter. .. …

Lawyer
in Plea Deal Was Edwards Bundler

As late as May, Edwards was still very much involved with Lerach.


Edwards, who has been running a populist campaign that focuses on the gap
between rich and poor, issued the statement at a time when some Enron investors
have teamed up with trial lawyer Bill Lerach and union leader Andy Stern to
make their voices heard. Last week, the group held a press conference to urge
Cox and his fellow commissioners to file a brief in a case involving whether
third parties can be sued under federal securities laws for allegedly participating
in another company’s accounting fraud. … ..

Candidate
Edwards Presses SEC Chief On Supreme Court Case

Edwards also got slammed
on hedge funds
, but he’s not the only one taking cash from them, including
Clinton and Obama. But they’re not the ones sending emails and making talking
head appearances trying to turn their campaign into a who’s cleaner?
competition. As long as it’s legal who cares? As you may also know, Obama got
slimed by Rezko, because even though Obama wasn’t involved the crook helped
the rookie pol set up shop. Clinton got into more trouble recently over some
weirdo name Hsu, and decided to give back $850,000 the guy raised for her presidential
campaign. It all stinks if you ask me, so pretending one is less smelly is just
sanctimonious drivel.

Again, legal and transparent is the standard. All this cash, influence and chumminess isn’t pretty, but that’s our
system right now. Let’s just hope people keep reporting on it. Embarrassment is the best disinfectant in lieu of public financing. But I don’t think any of these top tier candidates can claim to
be the gold standard for piety when it comes to campaign cash, no matter what
their supporters claim. All I want besides things being legal and transparent
is to make sure we don’t take a back seat to the Republican campaign cash colossal
heading into ’08.

We need public financing. Pledges don’t mean jack because groups will always
find a way around them and Republicans always cheat. To win in ’08 we’ll need
boatloads of cash. Period.

I wouldn’t have even brought this up if Trippi hadn’t raised the desperation
flag by claiming Edwards is any different than the others. He’s not. I know
that Clinton deserves scrutiny for her actions when it appears to be a “pay
to play” operation, though everyone should note it’s legal and
if it’s in the news you can’t get any more transparent than that. Edwards’ trial lawyer bundler Lerach isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue connection.

Oh, but I can just hear
it now: Edwards is better than Clinton; he’s cleaner; her people are sleazier! Whatever. Then when Edwards decides to hit Clinton, and his surrogates preen
his purity on cable, it would sure as hell be nice if news that a big bundler
of his pleading guilty to conspiracy over kickbacks wasn’t reported on the exact same day.

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