Mr. Edwards’s Bundle of Secrets

It’s already started. Drudge did a little digging earlier today on Edwards (I won’t post the link here because it’ll be dead before the dawn breaks). But the Washington Post is running it’s own little hit piece on JE. Worth a look see as it takes a look at his stance on “cleaning up” Washington and his decrying of lobbyists:

*snip*And Mr. Edwards? His press secretary, Jennifer Palmieri, had this to say to us last month: “Sen. Edwards is a leader in campaign finance reform. He has committed to the public finance system, proposed bold new ethics standards as a candidate . . . and has gone beyond what the law requires by refusing to accept any contributions from lobbyists. Every donation he receives is duly reported.” True, but as Mr. Edwards’s fellow lawyers would say, non-responsive. As the other candidates have implicitly recognized, there is a gap in the existing disclosure regime. The rules put quantity of disclosure (all donations bigger than $200) over quality, failing to require that candidates reveal the identities of the financiers who really matter to their enterprises — and to whom they’d be indebted in office.

Based on the latest data available, Mr. Edwards has collected a bigger chunk of his donations in the form of $2,000 checks, the largest allowable, than any of the other Democratic candidates: 65 percent, compared with Mr. Kerry’s 55 percent and Mr. Dean’s 13 percent. Now, with his surprise second-place showing in Iowa, Mr. Edwards is scrambling to collect even more of those checks. It’s no secret that the backbone of Mr. Edwards’s financial support has been his fellow trial lawyers, nor does Mr. Edwards minimize that part of his biography; rather, he embraces it as a role in which he fought for ordinary citizens against powerful corporations. That’s fine; voters can judge for themselves between his view of the profession and the Republicans’ depiction of trial lawyers as sharks savaging the public interest. What’s beyond dispute is that trial lawyers are a special interest. They pump millions of dollars into Democratic coffers because their livelihoods depend on such legislative issues as caps on damages in medical malpractice cases, limits on class action lawsuits and the settlement of asbestos litigation.

“I have never taken a dime from Washington lobbyists and I never will,” Mr. Edwards tells his audiences. “I will be your president, not theirs.” But if Mr. Edwards believes that taking campaign contributions from lobbyists makes candidates beholden to them, why won’t he reveal more about the interests and individuals that he would owe if elected president? If he’s as committed as he says to transparency in government, is it too much to ask that his campaign at least be as open as that of Mr. Bush?