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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/7/11

The Edwards Prosecution -- They have better things to do

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The specifics in (20) (A) make it perfectly clear what constitutes "election activity."  It's the nuts and bolts of getting the vote out, advertising, and the logistics of moving candidates and people around. There is no basis to expand and distort the definition as the Department of Justice prosecution does.  The neglect of obvious clauses in the law that exculpate Edwards or anyone else similarly charged speaks to the transparent weakness of the indictment.

A Stacked Deck at the Department of Justice

Who had the gall to bring this indictment in the first place?  It comes from the Department of Justice, via the US Attorney's office, North Carolina, Eastern  District.  President George W. Bush appointed the US Attorney behind this effort in 2006, George E.B. Holding.  He comes from the same family that owns the holding company that controls Citizens Bank, one of the largest regional banks in the Southeast.  The family had strong ties to the late Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC).  Holding's three high profile indictments of politicians were all prominent Democrats.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) put a hold on the Obama administration's nominee to replace Holding.  Burr got the silent assent of the Democratic Senator from that State, Kay Hagen.  Was this delay designed to get Edwards?  We may never know.  Burr is the fall guy for this awful prosecution, according to Obama administration apologists.  In fact, if Obama wanted his own US Attorney, he would have had the appointment.  It has been two and a half years since he took office.

Odd cases make strange bed fellows.  The case would never have been brought were it not approved by the Department of Justice.  The chief of the department's section on public integrity, Jack Smith, co-signed the complaint.  Andrew Kreig, Executive Director of the Justice Integrity Project, chronicled the unraveling of the section's last big case, the prosecution of the late Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.  The judge who dismissed the case said he'd never seen anything like the "mishandling and misconduct" in that prosecution in 25 years on the Federal bench. "

Lanny A. Breuer, President Obama's choice to head the criminal division at main justice came to government from one of Washington's true power firms, Covington and Burling, the same firm that Attorney General Eric Holder left when he became Attorney General.  The indictment would not have occurred without their approval.  At the law firm, Breuer headed up a division that represented targets of congressional probes:   "Moody's Investor Service in the wake of Enron's collapse, and Halliburton/KBR in a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform."  The fox now guards the hen house.

Where is the justice and equity in a baseless prosecution by a political enemy of John Edwards, supervised by a public integrity section that shocks judges by its misconduct, all under the banner of a Justice Department where the two senior officials are from a high powered DC law firm specializing in defending big money corporations accused of major crimes?

Where are the critically important  financial fraud indictments?

The Great Recession of 2008 laid waste to the assets of the middle and working classes.  By 2009, the top 1% of the country had  incomes 255 times greater than the bottom four fifths of the population.  The top 20% controlled 80% of the nation's wealth, with 20% for the rest of the country.  About 25% of citizens have a negative net worth

The value of home equity went from 13.5 trillion before the Great Recession to 5.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2009, a loss of $8.2 trillion for the most valuable asset most citizens own.

The likely perpetrators of the Great recession are among  top 1% of the population.  Many sources have documented the unmitigated greed and recklessness of Wall Street and the big banks, greed that precipitated the recession.  A comprehensive report by a bipartisan Senate committee documents much of it, in detail, with extensive evidence.

What has the Department of Justice been up to during this time?  When what many agree are true financial crimes, many involving mortgage fraud, we have every reason to expect indictments and prosecutions of those whose actions cost so much and caused such suffering?

The perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis and Great recession caused losses  8.2 trillion in home equity values and the DOJ fraud task force recovered only $204 million (see chart).  Yet, this same Justice Department has time to initiate a costly, trivial, absurd prosecution of a political figure who will never run for office agai

Talking up the administration's Financial Fraud Task Force, Lanny A. Breuer, head of the justice criminal division said, "As you know, in the wake of the economic crisis, pursuing financial fraud is one of the Department's top priorities."

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