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Edwards Used Poverty “Charity” To Campaign

From his fans at the Associated Press:

Edwards’s nonprofit kept his profile high

By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 22

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – When John Edwards pursued his crusade against poverty in 2005, he created a nonprofit center that allowed him to maintain a high profile — and avoid the legal scrutiny aimed at presidential candidates…

The center’s five officers all had worked for his previous presidential campaign, for example, and it appears to have paid for his travel to New Hampshire and several delegate-rich states.

The center wasn’t subject to the limits imposed by federal election laws on a presidential exploratory committee, the first major step in raising money toward a bid. Meanwhile, it may have stretched the limits of tax law, which prohibits political nonprofits from having a primary purpose of supporting or opposing candidates.

“It’s possible that the ‘opportunity’ the center was promoting was only John Edwards’s opportunity — his opportunity to run for president,” said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks money in politics…

Edwards’s nonprofit filed its 2005 annual report with the Internal Revenue Service in November 2006 and has yet to file its 2006 report, having asked for an extension beyond the May deadline.

The campaign declined to release the figures that will be in the 2006 report to The Associated Press.

The center raised and spent $1.3 million in 2005, according to the IRS report, and it employed several staff members who now work for Edwards’s 2008 campaign. The center also appears to have paid for some of Edwards’s travels across the country that year

In 2005, the nonprofit paid for Edwards’s “Opportunity Rocks” tour of college campuses nationwide, where he worked to mobilize students to address poverty — the signature issue of his presidential campaign. Stops included Arizona, North Carolina Missouri, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, California, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan.

The nonprofit also hosted seminars to discuss foreign policy and Iraq. In November 2005, Edwards wrote in The Washington Post that he was wrong to have voted in favor of the war, a key turning point in his foreign policy stance and one that continues to drive his current position.

The nonprofit had five officers in 2005: Miles Lackey, a senior Edwards adviser; Peter Scher, an Edwards adviser and former campaign manager; David Ginsberg, a senior campaign adviser; Ed Turlington, Edwards’s former campaign chairman and current adviser; and Alexis Bar, Edwards’s former scheduling director.

All worked for the Edwards campaign in 2004, and all but Bar now work for his 2008 campaign. About 20 percent of the nonprofit’s budget went to unnamed consultants, according to IRS filings. Another 37 percent went to salaries and wages…

Edwards did have a political action committee. But unlike the nonprofit, his One America Committee was subject to the FEC’s strict transparency and oversight rules that require the disclosure of expenditures and the source of donations.

“Since it does appear that candidate Edwards was using his nonprofit to build his national profile up to his presidential campaign, it would be nice to know who was backing and who was financing that,” Ritsch said…

Edwards traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire at least four times each in 2005…

In typical AP fashion, much of the (excerpted) article is spent explaining how Edwards’s activity is actually quite legal.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 22nd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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