John Edwards is a worm.
That may be overstating his humanity. The one-time rising star in the Democratic Party has turned out to be another empty, narcissistic pretty boy, with the morals of an alley cat. Combine money, power, and a dose of boyish charm, and you’re bound to end up with a sex scandal. Just ask Bill Clinton.
But when you add in a dying wife, it takes it to new lows. I couldn’t dislike this man any more, and I have my doubts he’ll ever redeem himself. But is he guilty of a crime?
The accusation is that he used campaign funds to cover up his indiscretions. Did he do this to keep his wife in the dark, or did he do it to keep the voting public in the dark? Was the money given to him directly, or was it routed through a campaign account?
Technically, he may have committed a crime. After all, this was pre-Citizens United. At the time, rules and regulations were on the books that prevented a candidate from using campaign funds for any personal gain.
Now, all this seems much ado about nothing. This is the age of the Super Pac. Political pundits only need to start their own Super Pac, set up a website for donations, and then live off the proceeds in any way they choose. Donations to these organizations are unlimited. No one has to disclose the donors. Beneficiaries, basically, have carte blanche on the use of the funds. It’s all perfectly legal in our new, enlightened age.
If the Citizens United ruling were made retroactive, would we even bother spending millions to prosecute this worm? Or would we just recognize him as another snake in the grass of politics?
John Edwards is a worm, but he’s not a criminal. The real crime is that a few, well-heeled people can now wrest democracy from the hands of the voters. Who will prosecute this case?
>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.