Home > B1 > Sen. Edwards (D) is Fighting Campaign Finance Felony Charges

Sen. Edwards (D) is Fighting Campaign Finance Felony Charges

In my government course at the Parish Episcopal School we explore the function and operation of our government in the United States.  As was made clear at the beginning of the course, we need to familiarize ourselves with our government in order be responsible citizens and protect our liberties as citizens.  As part of our learning process, we have read historical documents including the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Federalist papers in order to investigate the information required for discussion and exercise thought regarding how these documents can be applied to our lives, our culture and our legal system.By studying government we become aware of our rights as citizens, the basic structure of our government, how government functions within the framework of our culture as well as how we can participate as responsible citizens.  This process prepares us to be the scholarly, informed citizens necessary for a healthy democracy.

Experience with Current Event:
As a student, our study of government has been a great success, and here is proof.  As I go about my daily life, I am able to apply and relate course material to current events that I am confronted with in newspapers, on television and on the internet.  For example, as I drove to school on April 12, 2012, I was listening to the Morning Edition of National Public Radio and I heard some rather peculiar words from the reporter.  Carrie Johnson, a NPR news reporter, was talking about “campaign funds.” Before taking my government course, I would have preferred to be entertained by the banter of “Bo and Jim.”

The Case:
In Carrie Johnson’s report, she updates her NPR radio audience about the upcoming trial of Senator John Edwards.  The court case is questioning John Edward’s usage of “campaign funds” that were donated to him by two long-time supporters.  Sen. Edwards, a Democrat representing North Carolina, is fighting campaign finance felony charges.  He allegedly accepted and failed to report over $1 million that he used to support the lavish lifestyle of his mistress and former campaign worker, Rielle Hunter, with whom he an illegitimate child.  Apparently, the money was not assigned to any specific campaign expense.  Senator John Edwards (D) received money from two donors who will not face criminal charges in the trial: Fred Baron, a trial lawyer, is dead and Rachel Mellon, who considered Edwards as a “romantic hero,” is 101 years old and therefore is not expected to testify.

Is Senator John Edwards guilty of criminal charges?  Should he face prison time for the illegal usage of Presidential campaign funds, locking him up for up to 30 years?  Is he really a danger to society?

Connection to Gov:
In our government class, we discussed and explored the role of money in elections.  We read articles that express contradicting viewpoints about the Constitutionality of donations and their relationship to protecting freedom of speech versus the corruption that money can cause when it buys influence, undermining the fundamental philosophy of democracy.

This case involves legal forms of donation that were made legally.  The allegations question the proper use of those donations.  We read Obama’s criticism on the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, where he states that he believes that large donations from organizations and lobbyists corrupt our political system.  In addition, we read John Samples and Ilya Shapiro’s criticismof the Supreme Court Case, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, where he states that he believes donations are an important part of our political system because they are a form of free speech, reflected in support of a political candidate or party.  Money talks and talk is free speech.

The role of money in politics is controversial issue that is hotly debated and that people will never agree on.  Some see the donation of money as a form of speech or political expression, while others see money as a corrupting force that suppresses the voice of the common people, who can not afford to buy influence.Government class has helped me see that the issues of the world are not clear cut, or even black and white.  There are always struggles between competing interests and different perspectives.  But, our democratic system provides a level playing field, or at least a system of rules in which differing viewpoints can compete for the favor of the public in open forum.  I have learned from government class and from following current events that the workings of government are held to a high standard of accountability, public opinion.  This is much better than the opinion of one man, such as dictators like Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro or Adolf Hitler.

  1. May 2, 2012 at 9:57 am

    If you could just edit this part here, ” with whom he and an illegitimate child.” and add some hyperlinks to show the article or some information to back up some of the information like the NPR report on your post. I like the way you put this in a very concise and somewhat humorous manner.

  2. danielagov
    May 2, 2012 at 10:01 am

    It was written quite well. The organization and pictures help the reader stay focused. Perhaps providing a few more links to your sources of information would be nice.

  3. brookebgov
    May 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Hi Eric, the fluidity of your post is very easy to follow and your introduction sets a good tone for the remainder of your post. I like how you broke down the current event then created a separate post for the relation to our current studies. Your ideas were great and your current event was prominent and interesting. I agree with danielaram in the aspect that you should use factual sources to back up your assertion.

  4. May 10, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Outstanding job, Eric – I appreciate your growing sense your important role as part of a new generation of “scholarly, informed citizens” who will always be “necessary for a healthy democracy” (paragraph 2).

    Regarding the role of money in politics, I agree that an “open forum” full of “competing interests and different perspectives” is crucial for our democracy… however, I worry that money is a corrupting influence that affects the openness of our open forum for public debate and discource regarding important issues of policy. You’ve presented a balanced, nuanced view – I’m curious to know where you stand?

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