Saturday, April 26, 2003

Campaign finance hijinks

Despite the fact lawyers enjoy a monopoly on the practice of law, some of them apparently don’t know basic campaign finance laws:

A lawyer for Tab Turner, the head of a Little Rock law firm under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, suggested Thursday that his client had not been aware of an election law that prevents him from reimbursing employees who contribute to U.S. Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign.

"Mr. Turner learned about the campaign rules due to the media's calls to his office," said Ed Dowd of St. Louis. "Since then, he has been doing all he can to set this matter straight, and he will cooperate with the Federal Election Commission or other officials."

Turner and four legal assistants from his firm collectively gave $10,000 to Edwards' campaign during the first quarter of the year. One employee who gave $2,000 reportedly told The Washington Post last week that Turner said they would be reimbursed.

The Edwards campaign returned the money as a "precautionary" step.
I’m no aficionado of campaign finance laws, but even I knew you can’t “reimburse” an employee for a political contribution. John Edwards, himself a successful trial lawyer, probably knew this too. Mr. Turner had to know that as well. After all, why offer to reimburse your employees instead of just giving Edwards $10,000 outright? Obviously Turner knew there was a limit on individual contributions.

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