Joe Walsh settled his child support dispute with his ex-wife last week, but imagine a different scenario.
The man is running for office on a family values platform. Not family values in any meaningful sense that may involve spending government funds on poor families, but you know, “family values.” So he recognizes that a dispute over child maintenance payments is going to be an issue.
Luckily, Walsh has wealthy friends who also happen to be donors to his campaign. He asks two of them to pay his child support. The damaging story never surfaces, the campaign does well, and Walsh’s ex-wife is able to collect on what’s due to her.
A few years later, Walsh is facing up to 30 years in federal prison.
At least that’s how I — and everyone from the National Review to CREW — read the government’s argument in the John Edwards case. Edwards is accused of directing third party funds to Rielle Hunter in an effort to keep his affair out of the public eye and improve the chances of his presidential bid. The hypothetical Walsh expenditures would be covered under the same theory.
It’s absurd. There are dozens of third-party expenditures that could “influence an election” and all these would be criminalized if the government’s theory in the Edwards case is affirmed. It’s especially ridiculous because in the post-Citizens United era, explicitly political third-party expenditures are completely legal (though coordination with the campaign isn’t allowed), while here the government is criminalizing third-party expenditures that have only a tangential relationship to the campaign.
In short, fuck you, John Edwards for forcing me to root for your acquittal.