Baron grants an interview to the Texas Lawyer, and makes some implausible claims:
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.
Where’s the trial lawyer bringing a class action on behalf of all of the people who were defrauded when they gave money to John Edwards’s presidential campaign? It’s certainly a much more plausible claim of causation, reliance, and financial injury than the typical class action.
More seriously, I hope someone somewhere is investigating whether Fred Baron violated federal campaign finance law when he set aside tens of thousands of dollars to pay Rielle Hunter hush money without disclosing the payments on behalf of Edwards. Edwards said he was in the Beverly Hilton to help keep the story from becoming public, which makes it seem unlikely he’s telling the truth when he said that he had no knowledge that Baron moved Hunter to California. Alas, ABC didn’t ask the right follow-up questions, such as how Edwards thought meeting Hunter in a hotel room would help keep the story quiet. And “Fred Baron” appears nowhere in the New York Times story, even as he is a major fund-raiser for Barack Obama today. Obama is still running for president, right?
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.
- Speech tribunal in Alberta, Canada, acquits Ezra Levant over publication of Mohammed cartoons, and it only cost him C$100,000* [National Post, his site, Daimnation]
- Must not cover John Edwards-Rielle Hunter story … must not cover John Edwards-Rielle Hunter story … oh darn!
- U.K. version of a story we’ve seen stateside: noise restrictions threaten roving musical ice cream trucks [Telegraph, Times Online, earlier from NYC]
- “Lawyer Who Says She Was Chastised for Not Being Sweet Is Allowed to Sue” [ABA Journal]
- More thoughts about “going on disability” [White Coat Rants]
- Willie Gary perhaps less than gallant (though undeniably hard-hitting) in countering woman’s claim of sexual assault [WPTV, ABA Journal, Ambrogi]
- Arguing against release, federal prosecutors say millions in assets of two Kentucky fen-phen defendants can’t be traced [Lexington Herald Leader]
- Virginia restaurantgoers looking forward to sangria on sultry evenings [Lindsay Nair, Roanoke Times]
- “It’s true that [veep-buzzed Sen. Bayh] sided with Republicans on tort reform … but do Democrats really want to be the kind of party that makes litmus tests out of those issues?” [Patashnik, TNR “Plank”]
- Third Circuit strikes down ban on “depiction of animal cruelty” as unconstitutional, protecting both bullfight travelogues and those bizarro-fetish “crush videos” [Volokh, our 1999 report]
- Sen. Lieberman brought an outspoken pro-legal-reform voice to the Democratic ticket [eight years ago on Overlawyered]
*Levant can recover nothing from his tormentors because the so-called human rights tribunals are given a special dispensation from the normally prevailing Canadian rule of loser-pays.
But let me be the first to point out that, if the allegations are true, Elizabeth Edwards can take advantage of North Carolina’s unusual tort law to sue Hunter for alienation of affection. When we last looked at the state of affairs in North Carolina in 2006, there were 200 such suits a year, with some verdicts in the six and seven digits. Of course, Mrs. Edwards would need a trial lawyer willing to take on her husband first.
Efforts to abolish the tort in the state have not been successful, though it is worth noting the fact that several dozen states have abolished heartbalm statutes without anyone suggesting that this tort reform is constitutionally problematic.
Update: Edwards persuades me that the story might be true when he gives a lawyerly non-denial denial filled with negative pregnants: “That’s tabloid trash. They’re full of lies. I’m here to talk about helping people.” Someone needs to ask a more targeted question of a purported candidate for vice president or attorney general.
Who is the “formerly hard-partying girl who claims that she found enlightenment” who met John Edwards in a bar and was paid six digits by the campaign to make videos of him that “lingers over the former senator’s behind as he tucks a starched white shirt into his pants,” and why is the campaign suddenly hiding the webvideos she made of Edwards on questionable legal grounds? Mickey Kaus is curious after reading this Sam Stein post. Separately, Garance Franke-Ruta notes the irony of Edwards stumping the SEIU for votes and donations on the leftist union’s “Lobby Day.” For other Edwards campaign shenanigans on Overlawyered, see Sep. 19.
Update, July 22: new revelations about Edwards and Hunter?
Update, August 13: Where did Andrew Young get his money?
(For continuing Rielle Hunter scandal coverage, see our Rielle Hunter tag.)