Has Rielle Hunter Been Illegally Paid John Edwards Campaign Money?

First, I think the irony that the National Enquirer broke this story is delicious. It's almost as fun as Matt Drudge and Monica's stained dress ....

That aside, wearing my lawyer hat, I'm thinking that the big, lasting story here is the money. Affairs aren't new for presidents or presidential candidates and sad to say, illegitimate children probably aren't either.

But this twist of "show me the campaign money" is new....

There are continuing news stories about Rielle Hunter receiving cash from Edwards' former campaign finance chairman ... and that this money continues to be provided to her.

CBS News is quoting ABC's Nightline interview last Friday of John Edwards, where he purported states,"I've never paid a dime of money to any of the people that are involved. I've never asked anybody to pay a dime of money, never been told that any money's been paid."

(Edwards is a lawyer, and this response reminds me of my first year at UT Law, where torts Professor Treece explained personal injury defense: "you weren't bitten by a dog; second, my dog doesn't bite; third, I don't own a dog.")

1. Rielle Hunter's undoubtedly got the argument that she was, or is, a campaign employee.

However, that only gets her so far -- the money she's received needs to be reasonably comparable to others in that same position. Easiest way to do that is to compare jobs: how much did Hillary's campaign videographer get paid? Mitt Romney's? Mike Huckabee's? Ron Paul's? Do they all have campaign videographers?

2. Another question here, for me at least, is not just the scope of her employment but its length.

Is she still employed by the campaign? In what capacity? (According to the National Enquirer, Rielle Hunter is still receiving cash payments from the Edwards campaign coffers.)

3. Was any of this illegal?

If Miss Hunter, the former Lisa Druck, has been paid campaign dollars for what essentially becomes custody, support, and/or consideration for a confidentiality agreement, then federal laws may come into play here, and to me, this is where the rubber meets the road on this story being different from the rest of the Gary Hart-esque dramas.

I think we're looking at a federal crime when someone's dollars, given to advance a political campaign for president, are instead used for the personal expenses of the candidate's pregnant girlfriend.

Maybe it's fraud. Maybe it's theft. Maybe it's a violation of federal campaign funding protocols. But it's something.

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