"This case is about politics," attorneys Abbe Lowell, Jim Cooney and Wade Smith argued in one of five motions filed Tuesday. "A Republican U.S. Attorney with political ambitions of his own has used this high-profile case to his personal benefit," the defense team wrote, referring to former U.S. Attorney George Holding, who announced his resignation just a week after Edwards was indicted in June.
Edwards, who ran for president twice and was the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2004, was charged with campaign finance violations, making a false statement and conspiracy relating to an alleged scheme to transfer $925,000-worth of funds, goods and services from two campaign supporters to Rielle Hunter. Edwards secretly had an affair with Hunter and fathered her child.
The motion accusing Holding of "vindictive prosecution" alleges that he was a biased partisan intent on embarrassing Edwards and other Democrats. The motion notes that Holding worked for Judge Terrence Boyle, whose appeals court nomination Edwards blocked in 2001.
Holding is now running for Congress as a Republican. An e-mail sent to his campaign was not immediately responded to Tuesday night.
Other motions filed Tuesday argue that the prosecution is unfair and unprecedented. One contends:
While much can be said in questioning how Mr. Edwards conducted himself throughout this saga, the allegations in the Indictment that he violated campaign finance laws should not be among them. The distinction between a wrong and a crime is at the heart of this case. The government acknowledges that neither Mr. Edwards nor his campaign improperly received any money directly and that the campaign did not misspend any of the money it raised, including federal matching funds. Nor is there any allegation that the money was spent on anything people would ordinarily think of as campaign activities, such as buying advertising or funding campaign events.
A key defense claim is that the indictment in the case doesn't specify whether the government is alleging that the payments made to Hunter were illegal contributions to Edwards's campaign, illegal third-party expenditures under campaign finance laws, or improper conversions of campaign funds to personal use. Edwards's defense team, now led by Abbe Lowell, Jim Cooney and Wade Smith (after the sudden departure of Greg Craig), argues that any payments to and for Hunter had no connection to Edwards's campaign and that they continued after his 2008 campaign ended.
By Josh Gerstein