A government watchdog group wants the charges against former North Carolina Senator John Edwards dropped. Edwards is accused of conspiring to pay the expenses of his mistress using campaign donations. Those payments were made by two of his close friends. Melanie Sloan is Executive Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Melanie Sloan: "There is literally no precedent for prosecuting anybody for accepting a campaign contribution in circumstances like these."
Sloan says current law prohibits using campaign money for personal expenses.
Sloan: "So if the money can't be considered a campaign contribution, then how is it in this case, because some third party paid for Rielle Hunter's expenses, it's suddenly a campaign contribution? That doesn't make sense."
She says another problem is that the government contends the payments amount to a campaign donation because they were intended to protect Edwards' appearance as a "family man."
Sloan: "But under that logic, if Mr. Edwards had, say, been a known philanderer, then money paid for his mistress' expenses wouldn't have been a campaign contribution, and that can't be right. In our country, we prosecute for conduct, not character. So it can't matter whether or not Mr. Edwards was a family man or a philanderer, and yet, in this case it would. As loathsome as Mr. Edwards is and as repulsive as his conduct was, being a liar and doing terrible things like this is simply not a crime. And in our country we prosecute people for crimes, not just for being hateful."
The trial is scheduled to start in January.
You can read CREW's brief here. Click "Listen Now" to hear Melanie Sloan talk about their reasons for intervening in the case.