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A federal judge dismissed two of three campaign finance violation charges Monday against a prominent Los Angeles attorney for allegedly funneling $26,000 to Sen. John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign through employees of his law firm.
Pierce O’Donnell had been indicted for allegedly conspiring to have 13 of his employees give the campaign the maximum allowable $2,000 each and then reimbursing them. The judge held that under some circumstances such “conduit contributions” are permissible according to the statute under which O’Donnell was charged.
In the ruling by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, the third count of the indictment that accused O’Donnell of causing the campaign to make false statements to the Federal Elections Commission by concealing the true nature of the contributions, was allowed to stand. O’Donnell could stand trial on that count. But one of O’Donnell’s attorneys, George Terwilliger of Washington, D.C., said he hoped the third count would ultimately be dismissed.
In other words, the judge gutted a major provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which bans making “contributions in the name of another.” Now apparently you can make exactly these sorts of contributions, you just can’t the give straw donors the money in advance. If the decision holds up on appeal, and Congress does not rewrite the relevant section of the law, expect rich donors to flood the 2010 mid-term elections with even more money than usual.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”