John Edwards: U.S. presidential election, 2008/Campaign finance
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Trial / tort lawyer cash
Edwards's soft money
In March 2002, "[w]hen the Senate debated an overhaul of the nation's campaign finance laws", "popular first-term" Sen. John Edwards "took to the floor to make an impassioned speech about the corruptive influence of big money in politics," Holly Bailey wrote May 16, 2002, for OpenSecrets.org "Money in Politics Alert".
- "This legislation will go a long way to returning power in this government to where it started and where it belongs, which is with average Americans going to the polls ... Everyone should have as much voice in this democracy as someone who can write a $100,000 campaign check. Period," Edwards said.
In 2002, Edwards "poured nearly half a million dollars in soft money into Iowa and New Hampshire from his New American Optimists leadership committee [now known as Edwards's One America Committee] ... according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service. That made him by far the most generous of the major Democratic presidential contenders," Steven Weiss wrote January 9, 2003, for Capital Eye. "Edwards, who made millions as a trial lawyer before running for Senate in 1998, collected more than 40 contributions of $10,000 or more into his committee from individuals who identified themselves as attorneys. Several law firms also made the list."
By May 2002, New American Optimists, "which accept[ed] contributions from other PACs ... [had] raised more than $1 million, half of which in soft money that Edwards so often decried during the campaign finance debate," Holly Bailey wrote.
"Why the sudden change of heart?", Bailey asked. "Like other Washington lawmakers who have formed leadership PACs, Edwards has his eye on a higher office-in this case, the White House. To get there, he must have friends and name recognition, two things that leadership PACs have been proven to buy."
In June 2002, Thomas B. Edsall wrote in the Washington Post that Edwards, who was then "considering a bid for the presidency in 2004, raised $461,000 during the first quarter with his affiliated 527 committee, the New American Optimists.".