Edwards’ Chief Fundraiser Raises New Questions

The Edwards affair scandel has opened a new line of questioning, that is what his chief fundraiser, Fred Baron has been dabbling in illegal activities by covering up the affair using campaign money. These new allegations contradict Baron’s claim that the money he gave Rielle Hunter and Andrew Young the man who claims he is the father of Hunter’s baby. If Baron did use campaign money to finance Hunter and Young’s relocation to California then he should be brought up on charges, however more of an investigation needs to be done to determine how much Edwards knew and if he authorized said payments.

In addition to this there are ties between Baron and Hunter and Young lawyers dealing with rackettering charges. Something stinks here.

New questions emerged Friday about John Edwards’ longtime chief fundraiser and secret efforts that protected the pregnant woman with whom the former presidential candidate has admitted an extramarital affair in 2006.

Fred Baron, Edwards’ national finance chairman and a wealthy Dallas-based trial attorney, has acknowledged that he quietly began sending money to Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ mistress, to resettle in California, along with the family of Andrew Young. Young is the campaign aide who has said he is the father of Hunter’s daughter, born after her affair with Edwards.

But Baron is far more intertwined in the matter than previously known, with long-standing personal connections to the lawyers who represented Hunter and Young, according to a review of legal findings by the Associated Press. Hunter’s lawyer, Robert J. Gordon of New York, was sued unsuccessfully with Baron and Baron’s law firm in 2001 in U.S. District Court in New York in a racketeering complaint. Young’s lawyer, Pamela J. Marple of Washington, was among three lawyers who defended Baron and his firm. The case was dismissed in December 2005.

Baron didn’t return a phone call or respond to an e-mail from the AP on Friday.

The relationships among Baron, Marple and Gordon were first reported in Friday’s editions of the New York Times. The newspaper said Baron acknowledged he might have played a role in hiring Marple and Gordon in the Edwards scandal, after initially saying he did not know how the lawyers were chosen.

Meanwhile, an earlier payment of $14,000 to Edwards’ mistress from the candidate’s political action committee was exchanged for 100 hours of unused videotape she shot producing short Web movies for which she already had been paid $100,000, an Edwards associate told the AP. Neither Edwards’ advisors nor this associate would discuss the purpose of the payment on the record.

That payment from Edwards’ OneAmerica political action committee, which came after Hunter stopped working for it, came in April 2007, months before Baron quietly began sending money himself to Hunter. Baron has described his payments to Hunter as a private transaction.

Edwards acknowledged last week that he had an affair with Hunter in 2006. The former Democratic presidential contender and senator from North Carolina has denied any knowledge of payments from Baron to Hunter.

Baron’s payments could present legal problems, said Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell, who specializes in campaign finance law and who represents Republican candidates and conservative groups. She said all payments to anyone involved in Edwards’ presidential campaigns — including Hunter and Young — should have been fully disclosed under U.S. campaign finance laws.

“That would undermine the purpose of the payments, which was to avoid public disclosure of the affair,” Mitchell said. “The idea that Edwards’ finance chairman can independently hand over substantial sums of money to two campaign workers at a time when Edwards is a candidate and to argue that that is not related to his campaign is a bit preposterous.”

The earlier, $14,000 payment to Hunter is significant because its source was Edwards’ OneAmerica political action committee, whose expenditures are governed by U.S. election laws.

Willfully converting political action committee money to personal use would be a federal criminal violation.

An associate of Edwards, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the $14,000 was paid to Hunter only after she relinquished about 100 hours of cutting-room floor videotape excerpts that were not part of four short Web videos she had produced for Midline Groove Ltd., a company Hunter started with a business partner in 2006.

When Hunter provided the last of more than 100 hours of footage, the firm was paid as contracted for, said the Edwards associate.

Legal experts said it was important for Edwards to demonstrate that the PAC wasn’t paying Hunter merely to keep her quiet about the affair.

“One thing that’s possible is that she was still owed money from what she’d done before for the political action committee, but obviously there are less charitable explanations,” said Richard Hasen, a professor specializing in campaign finance law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Edwards, who made millions as a personal injury lawyer, has relied heavily on fellow lawyers to finance his political career.

And no single law firm has been more generous than Baron’s. Through Edwards’ election to the Senate from North Carolina and his 2004 presidential bid, the Dallas firm had donated $419,650 to help Edwards win elections, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Baron, a former president of the main national trade association for trial lawyers and a longtime Democratic donor and fundraiser, also was Edwards’ finance chairman in his 2004 and 2008 campaigns for the presidential nomination.

Baron is also a huge democratic financeer in Texas, donating millions of his own money to start the Texas Democratic Trust . Now considering his recent limelight he needs to be investigated by Congress. But no our Congress would be much more concerned with investigating steroid use in MLB…

 WASHINGTON —  The Dallas lawyer who helped John Edwards’ former mistress move across the country has donated $3.5 million since 2005 to help fuel a Democratic resurgence in Texas, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Fred Baron has been by far the largest donor to a group called the Texas Democratic Trust, and Republicans are now taking aim at candidates who take money connected to him.

Baron, who is Edwards’ longtime chief fundraiser, has helped Democrats rebound from near-obscurity in the Texas House to within striking distance of winning a majority of seats this fall. Baron started the Texas Democratic Trust and gave it $1.9 million in 2005 and 2006, providing more than 80 percent of its funding, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“Without Fred Baron, none of this would have happened,” Democratic consultant Jason Stanford told the newspaper. “He paid for it. He paid for the work that was absolutely necessary.”

Baron was thrust into the national spotlight after acknowledging that he quietly began sending money to Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ mistress, to resettle in California. Baron has said he did not tell Edwards that he helped Hunter, nor how much money he gave her.

The Edwards saga has given Republicans new ammunition to attack Baron and those who have benefited from his donations. This week, Republicans criticized Democrat Diana Maldonado, who is running for a state House seat, because she received $25,000 from a group that Baron gave $25,000 to in April.

“Making that connection is absolutely in-bounds, and we would be remiss if we didn’t,” said Hans Klingler, a spokesman for the Texas Republican Party.

Slightly more than half of the money raised by the state party’s political action committee in 2005 and 2006 came from the Democratic Trust. Baron’s recent donations are unmatched in Texas by anyone in his party.

As Baron’s money poured in, Democratic gains accelerated. At the start of 2006, Democrats held 63 of the 150 seats in the Texas House. They now hold 71, within five seats of a House majority.

Democrats took control of Dallas County government two years ago and have picked up two congressional seats. But the party hasn’t won a statewide race in 14 years.

 

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