Via Political Wire comes this Walter Shapiro TNR piece suggesting the prosecution will prove the Bunny Mellon did not know about the Edwards affair when she gave the money to Edwards. Shapiro asks: “If Bunny Mellon did not know about the affair, how could her contributions be personal rather than political?”
But I don’t think that’s the right question. Let’s suppose Mellon did not know. Even if Mellon intended the money to help Edwards’ campaign, it is Edwards intent that matters here. As I explained in a Slate piece last year, under the murky law on what constitutes “personal use” of funds received during the course of a campaign, Edwards has at least a plausible argument his intent was to save his marriage and not to help his campaign. (My more technical post on this issue is here.)
Further, it should be pointed out that even if the jury convicts, there’s a good chance the conviction won’t stand. See Rick Pilde’s award-winning post, Why John Edwards Probably Did Not Commit A Crime, Regardless of His Motives or Those of The Donors.