A book proposal by former John Edwards aide Andrew Young is sensationally said to allege “that Edwards asked [the late asbestos-suit impresario] Baron if he could find a doctor who would falsify a DNA report.” [New York Times via (quoted) AmLaw Litigation Daily] Now where would anyone have gotten the impression that Baron was a good person to talk to if you wanted to misrepresent medical facts about someone?
We described the Dallas attorney as poster boy for legal ethics for his astoundingly brazen conduct in the scandal over an asbestos testimony-coaching memo. Now his name is hitting front pages on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair:
Dallas lawyer Fred Baron told The Dallas Morning News today that he paid relocation and housing expenses for the woman that former presidential candidate John Edwards has confessed to having an affair with.
Mr. Baron, who was chairman of Mr. Edwards’ presidential campaign finance committee, said he paid money for Rielle Hunter to move from North Carolina to another location. …
He said Mr. Edwards did not know about the arrangement.
(Gromer Jeffers Jr., “Dallas lawyer Fred Baron paid for Edwards’ mistress to relocate”, Dallas Morning News, Aug. 8).
More coverage of Edwards’s (partial or otherwise) confession: ABC News, AP, Memeorandum, Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith/Politico, News & Observer, Just One Minute, Shaun Mullen/Moderate Voice. Readers will remember that Ted had the story very, very early, before it was much noticed even on the blogs (more). As for Edwards’s own credibility, Mickey Kaus, whose news judgment in pursuing the matter now stands vindicated, has this to say: “There is now one player in this scandal with far less credibility than the National Enquirer, after all.”
“I decided independently to help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to conduct a normal life,” Baron, a Dallas trial lawyer said in a statement, Rob Christensen reports.
“John Edwards was not aware that assistance was provided to anyone involved in this matter,” Baron said. “I did it of my own voilition and without the knowledge, instruction, or suggestion of John Edwards or anyone else. The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.”
York points out:
Hunter and Young, the recipients of Baron’s generosity, were not high-ranking officials in the Edwards campaign. How Baron got to know them and how he decided to fund their move to California, and why he decided to do so without Edwards’ knowledge, might be the subject of more questions as the Edwards matter goes forward.
Blogger Gina Cobb hopes the window of Baron’s generosity is still open:
I am touched and moved by your generosity. I especially like the part about “The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.” Accordingly, I would like to request the same generosity from you. Henceforward, I would like you to rent me an enormous house and pay my living expenses in perpetuity. I can assure you that the assistance you offer will be accepted without condition.
And see Ted’s follow-up post.
Apparently there is no honor among
thievesplaintiffs’ attorneys. The Texas Shark Watch Blog tells us that John Edwards’ money-man, Fred Baron, has sued his former law firm:
Never one to overlook any conceivable cause of action, Baron alleges in his petition filed in Dallas state district court breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty, tortious interference, conspiracy to tortious interference, fraud or alternatively negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy to fraud, fraudulent transfer, conversion, legal malpractice, negligence, unjust enrichment, and alternatively promissory estoppel or quantum meruit.
The blog has much more about plaintiffs’ bar involvement in Texas politics, including the use of over a million dollars of trial-lawyer money to support the independent-Republican candidacy of Carole Strayhorn, presumably to split the Republican vote and unseat a governor who has done much for reform. Efforts by trial lawyers to supplant reform-friendly Republican legislators with their own stalking-horse candidates in Republican primaries were unsuccessful, however.
With the strong support of my dad, after Bill Clinton out-raised and then defeated incumbent George Bush Sr., Clinton offered to nominate my dad to become a Supreme Court Judge. My dad actually considered it and even spent a couple of days shadowing one to see what the day-to-day activity was like. He just wasn’t interested. Plus, he would be required to sell his law firm. He told me that it was actually a pretty boring job.
The younger Baron’s piece is worth reading in its entirety for insights into the role and results of political fund-raising.
Per Marisa Guthrie at the magazine Broadcasting & Cable, ABC News was able to force John Edwards’ hand in part because it had been tracing the Fred Baron money trail (which, it will be recalled, Edwards supposedly had nothing to do with). “According to multiple sources, Edwards was apoplectic that ABC News broke the story on its website and began promoting it early on Friday” because the former North Carolina senator — who, y’know, was beating up on himself so bad and wanted nothing more than to come clean with the American people — “had hoped to control the news cycle by making his admission late on a Friday night when the country was watching the Olympics and the long weekend yawned ahead.” Earlier here and here.
Many commentators have questioned whether Edwards was telling the truth about when the affair ended. (Despite her family’s publicly expressed wishes for a paternity test, Rielle Hunter says she won’t allow one; whether this refusal is or is not related to her presumably ongoing financial dependence on Fred Baron’s largesse is not for us to know.) A second question is whether Edwards was telling the truth on ABC when he said he hired Hunter first for her filmmaking skills and began the relationship later, thus dodging charges of having put his mistress on the payroll. Sam Stein at Huffington Post examines chronologies here. Relatedly, Advice Goddess Amy Alkon has this to say about the L.A. Times’s straightfaced description of Hunter as a filmmaker: “Katie, honey, in this town [L.A.], we know to look at imdb.com to see if somebody actually is a filmmaker. This is a good dating tip for you, too, dear, because half the guys you’ll meet at the bar in this town are ‘producers.'”
More: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers.
Almost enough to make you want to vote for Bush: Dallas mass tort operator Fred Baron, poster boy for legal ethics and co-finance chairman of John Edwards’ presidential campaign (see Feb. 19), has been named co-chairman of Kerry Victory ’04, a joint effort by the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of presumptive nominee Kerry. “Baron says his contacts with contributors who can write big checks which, no doubt, include high-profile Texas plaintiffs lawyers were, in part, responsible for him getting the new post.” (“Texas Lawyer With Edwards Ties Joins Kerry Team”, Texas Lawyer/New York Lawyer, Jun. 2). More: detailed article on how Kerry, whose “voting record shows strong support for the plaintiffs bar”, has inherited the support of John Edwards’ trial-lawyer-based fund-raising machine (Lily Henning, “Edwards’ Army Recruited for Kerry Cash Push”, Legal Times, Jun. 18). Includes quotes from Washington mass tort attorney John Coale (“Kerry has just about a perfect record on issues that interest lawyers and trial lawyers,”) and our friend Lester Brickman. What if Kerry names Edwards as his v.p. pick? “If he’s on the ticket, you can reasonably predict that the amount of giving from trial lawyers will double or triple,” Brickman says. “They will unzip their wallets like they never had before. This would be unprecedented.” Yet more: the AP is on the story (Sharon Theimer, “Trial lawyers boost Kerry’s campaign effort”, AP/Houston Chronicle, Jun. 20)
- Claim: unwanted sugar in Dunkin’ Donuts coffee order sent customer into diabetic shock [AP]
- Schadenfreude aside, key theory in feds’ case against John Edwards looking mighty strained [Meck Deck/John Locke Foundation, Steve Hayward/Power Line, Ted Frank, Jacob Sullum] “They’ve indicted one former presidential candidate on one count of false statements?” [Caleb Brown] American Lawyer looks back at the law firms that backed Edwards in 2008; our coverage of his ’04 law-firm backers and of moneyman Fred Baron, and my commentary on Baron’s ethical standards;
- Edwards-reminiscent? Theory that earlier C-section would have averted cerebral palsy nets $58 M verdict [Thomas Scheffey, Connecticut Law Tribune]
- Carter Wood, key business-policy blogger, departs NAM for Business Roundtable;
- Tenderer tort-law treatment for trespassers, courtesy 3rd Restatement? [David Freddoso/Examiner, Richard Cupp via TortsProf]
- Non-shockingly, some litigation defense lawyers aren’t enthusiastic about lawsuit reform [Texas Lawyer]
- “Attorney charged with stealing clerk’s textbook from courtroom” [Baltimore Sun]
Elizabeth Edwards as Mrs. Stephen Haines, on Rielle Hunter as Crystal Allen: “I don’t know any people like this, I don’t have any friends like this person.” But she does [Paul Horwitz, Prawfsblawg (“It does, after all, take two to tango — or, more precisely, two plus Fred Baron“); more from Mickey Kaus and again]
What with all the money in Edwards’ own name from his legal career, not to mention the late Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron’s generosity in solving the housing needs of Edwards’ girlfriend, it wouldn’t seem necessary to use campaign or charitable funds for her benefit, too, but a U.S. attorney is said to be pursuing allegations along those lines. Hunter was paid $100,000 to do documentary filmmaking about the Edwards campaign, which gave the couple many opportunities to be close to each other. [New York Daily News, CBS News, Raleigh News & Observer] More: Althouse, Kaus.