Via the NYT:
John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff.
Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and — unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students — the main beneficiary of the center’s fund-raising was Mr. Edwards himself, tax filings show.
A spokesman for Mr. Edwards defended the center yesterday as a legitimate tool against poverty.
The organization became a big part of a shadow political apparatus for Mr. Edwards after his defeat as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and before the start of his presidential bid this time around. Its officers were members of his political staff, and it helped pay for his nearly constant travel, including to early primary states.
While Mr. Edwards said the organization’s purpose was “making the eradication of poverty the cause of this generation” its federal filings say it financed “retreats and seminars” with foreign policy experts on Iraq and national security issues. Unlike the scholarship charity, donations to it were not tax deductible, and, significantly, it did not have to disclose its donors — as political action committees and other political fund-raising vehicles do — and there were no limits on the size of individual donations.
Mr. Edwards mixed policy and politics in a way that allowed his supporters to donate to the causes he believed in — and to the organizations he had set up. He also set up two political action committees, something commonly done by politicians thinking of running for president.
But it was his use of a tax-exempt organization to finance his travel and employ people connected to his past and current campaigns that went beyond what most other prospective candidates have done before pursuing national office. And according to experts on nonprofit foundations, Mr. Edwards pushed at the boundaries of how far such organizations can venture into the political realm. Such entities, which are regulated under Section 501C-4 of the tax code, can engage in advocacy but cannot make partisan political activities their primary purpose without risking loss of their tax-exempt status.
Just more proof that John Edwards is a dishonest, self-serving creep who is more interested in feathering his own nest while trying make others feel guilt about not ‘doing more for the poor.’ Anyone who would attempt to channel the words of an unborn baby girl in the courtroom in order to pander to the jury, use his wife’s cancer announcement as a fundraising tool, and claim that he and his running mate would cure diseases and make people walk again if they were elected certainly isn’t beyond using a center he created to ‘help the poor’ to help advance his own political interests. I remember when I first heard about him creating the poverty center and thinking to myself “he’s up to something.” Sure enough, he was.
This man is a slick, lying snake oil salesman, and any Democrat who believes he’s an honest man is a fool.
Edwards new campaign motto should be: “Ask not what you can do for the poor, but what the poor can do for you.”
More: Tom Bevan thinks the article is unfair to Edwards, because what Edwards did is not illegal. I don’t think the legality of what he was doing is at issue. What IS at issue is his sincerity (or lack thereof) in claiming to ‘fight for the poor’ while in reality it’s less about helping the poor than making yourself out to be a ‘sensitive, caring’ candidate.
Others blogging about this: Byron York, Captain Ed (who thinks the Hillary camp might have had a hand in this article, Betsy Newmark, and Susan Madrak at the HuffPo – who provides the typical liberal response