By Allison Hayward
We should be grateful that the John Edwards jury has reached its verdict – and found Edwards not guilty on one count of taking an illegal campaign contribution. A guilty verdict could have meant much trouble for all campaign finance regulation.
If Edwards had been found guilty on that count, we could have entered an “Alice in Wonderland” world, where conduct that would not draw the ire of civil law enforcement can lead to prison. Because Edwards could be convicted for taking a contribution that the Federal Election Commission, which regulates campaign finance, wouldn’t even regard as a political donation.
It might have been otherwise. The jury, following the judge’s final instructions, could have found as a “fact” that the money given by Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, which Edwards and his associates used to hide his mistress, was given for “a purpose” of influencing a federal election. According to those instructions, that purpose could be one of several purposes.