Mellon Head: The NY Times Covers the John Edwards-Bunnie Mellon Story

The NY Times had a (not very big) story in today's paper about "Bunnie" Mellon, the billionaire dowager who gave John Edwards millions of dollars to hide his pregnant mistress during the 2008 campaign. As the story describes events that occurred 3-4 years ago, and comes 3 years after the National Enquirer ran Edwards to ground (after a solid year of being the sole media outlet outside of Kausfiles to cover the Edwards story at all), 18 months after Andrew Young's The Politician described the events in detail, and one year after I blogged about "Bunnie Money"...I'd say the Times is late to this story.
Mrs. Mellon, a Democrat in a world of Republicans, first met Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, through Mr. Huffman five years ago. She expressed an interest in Mr. Edwards because he reminded her of President John F. Kennedy, she told the decorator. And he arranged a first meeting, over tea, at her estate, Oak Spring Farms, in Upperville, Va.

Mr. Edwards ingratiated himself with Mrs. Mellon to the point where she gave him millions of dollars as well as a gold necklace as a good-luck charm for the campaign trail, according to a tell-all memoir by Andrew Young, Mr. Edwards’s former aide, who is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.

In May 2007, when Mr. Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter, told Mr. Edwards she was pregnant, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Young began looking for people who could give them money to help conceal the affair, the indictment said.

About the same time, it said, Mrs. Mellon wrote a note to Mr. Young, saying: “I was sitting alone in a grim mood — furious that the press attacked Senator Edwards on the price of a haircut. But it inspired me — from now on, all haircuts, etc. that are necessary and important for his campaign — please send the bills to me. ... It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions.”

At that point, the indictment said, Mrs. Mellon had already contributed the maximum permitted by law — $2,300 — to Mr. Edwards’s campaign.

Over the next eight months, the indictment said, Mrs. Mellon sent checks for Mr. Edwards through Mr. Huffman totaling $725,000, “falsely” referring in memo lines to things like “chairs,” “antique Charleston table” and “bookcase.” (Mr. Huffman refused to discuss this aspect of the case.)

Forget campaign finance violations, when is the trustee of the Mellon Trust going to sue Edwards for elder abuse?

In the wake of Edwards's indictment, John at Powerline and Steven Hayward have written that prosecuting Edwards was prosecutorial overkill, and not supported by federal election law. There's nothing illegal about a one party giving another $6 million to hide their mistress, goes the reasoning. All I can say is, read The Politician. Mellon was giving Edwards millions of dollars for his campaign, not for his mistress. (I doubt she had any idea Rhielle Hunter existed). Her money was being laundered through Edwards's campaign, either by Young or the late Fred Baron. At some point reading The Politician you start to wonder, hey, how is that people like Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell have to justify really penny-ante "violations" like whether the right RNC office saved the right Neiman Marcus receipts, while John Edwards can use hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single source to hide his pregnant mistress from the media? Well, Mellon's money was a gift! Of course! Why hasn't anyone else thought of this before? Well, no one's thought of it before because that would eviscerate the campaign finance laws.

I'll join with anyone out there who says the present system for financing elections is an incumbent protection racket that has done nothing to keep $$ out of politics. But, the laws are on the books and Edwards is subject to them, same as evil Republicans (whose campaign "violations" are usually reported on the weekend before elections, rather than years after the fact).

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