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View Diary: NYT Responds on Edwards Story (437 comments)

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  •  Let's see, perfectly legal. (14+ / 1-)

    What part of that do you not understand?

    I wrote a diary on this today:

    John Edwards: "They're not going to kill this voice."

    My point is that critcizing economic unfairness in this nation makes you enemies.

    John Edwards yesterday talked about what is really going on here:

    "Does that mean I can't speak out for those who don't have a voice?" Edwards asked. "Every time you do that you're going to get attacked ... It's always been that way in America because people who have wealth and power, they don't want to hear this. They'd rather kill the messenger. They're not going to kill this voice."

    So, as you do their work for them by smearing John Edwards, think to yourself, am I helping the right wingers here?

    "We've got to save America from this President." John Edwards 4/3/07

    by TomP on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:18:38 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  this is a trollish comment (4+ / 3-)

      I'm not doing anybody's work for them, and I'm not smearing Edwards.

      I have based my comments on the reading of the evidence, which as I have said repeatedly on this thread, does not look particularly good for Edwards.

      Further, I have observed that Edwards has not yet given an accounting of his use of the Center's funds that would respond to the charge that some of them were used for his political campaign. His failure to repond immediately by pointing out where the Times is wrong, if it is wrong, does not look particularly good.

      Also, I noted that Edwards appears to be trying to help reporters confuse two distinct issues: What he did with funds from his Center and DC; and what he did with funds from his Foundation in NC (both carrying the same name). Again, this doesn't cast a positive light on Edwards.

      On what grounds do you accuse me of "smearing" Edwards?

      •  I think you raise important questions. (8+ / 0-)

        Unfortunately, you raise them more cogently than the Times did.  If the Times had written as carefully as you do, I don't think I'd have a problem with the story.  You know, both can be true - that there are legitimate questions here and that the Times did an unpardonably bad story.

        That said, it's not entirely clear to me that the Edwards people are trying to confuse the issue here.  Or, it does appear that they have statements from students affected by the Center, not the Foundation's, activities that they're trying to get notice for.

        •  In fact, right on cue, (8+ / 0-)

          I got an email from Tracy with this statement from the president of ACORN.  In part:

          As ACORN’s president, I can personally attest that Senator Edwards has been a steadfast ally in this struggle – from raising wages to rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

          One of the best ways to end poverty is to pay workers fair wages. In the summer of 2005, I traveled with Senator Edwards to cities and states across the country, launching ballot initiative campaigns to raise the minimum wage above the shamefully low $5.15 an hour.

          While Senator Edwards could have chosen to do anything else with his time, he chose to spend it on the road with low-wage workers and their allies who were fighting to lift workers out of poverty. Edwards worked directly with grassroots community-faith-labor coalitions on the ground, leading rallies and press conferences to galvanize public support and working outside the spotlight to help organize support and raise funds to bring wage increase proposals to the ballot.

          Again, that doesn't provide a full accounting of the expenditures, but the Edwards campaign is clearly trying to direct attention toward the activities of the Center, so it speaks to one part of your questions.

          •  Will you add this to the front page? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, okamichan13

            This is an important statement in and of itself.

          •  Here is the deal - a lot of people - (8+ / 0-)

            even people here look at "$4 million" and "travel expenses" and make the leap to questioning Edwards as the article intended them to do.

            The story preys upon people who don't understand what a think-tank is and who don't understand the myriad of approaches that are taken in the philanthropic arena to address needs and issues.  Poverty is one of those issues where a lot of people think that if you're not handing out ten dollar bills at the local mission, you're not doing anything about the problem and the author of the article is either ignorant or is being disengenous.  My bet is on disengenuous.

            There are several well established anti-poverty projects and orgs that are working on this issue and Edwards' project only helps their causes.  

            Edwards' stated mission for the Center was to raise awareness.  There is clear evidence that the money has been spent focused on awareness and has achieved their stated goal of raising awareness.

            If the author cared a damn bit about finding out whether or not Edwards has made a contribution to the community of people in poverty, the author could have called up some of the eastablished anti-poverty orgs and talked to them.  I would bet a good sum of money that most if not all would sing his praises for bringing the issue back into the spotlight.

        •  the original Times story was less than perfect (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bronxist, ChiGirl88, Elise, Geekesque

          I agree that it should have been both longer and more clear about what the issues appeared to be.

          I don't know what students Edwards wanted the Times to speak to. But with an earlier BusinessWeek story on the Center's finances, Edwards put BW in touch with a scholarship recipient...which does appear to be misleading.

          Even if they were trying to get the Times to talk to students Edwards had spoken to about poverty, I fail to see the relevance.

          Nobody contests that the Center paid for such speaking engagements, and nobody challenges the appropriateness of that.

          The issue is whether other Center funds have been spent on primarily political work.

          So it's a bit like a car mechanic charging $1000 for an oil change, of which $950 went to his boat payment, and then saying 'But, look, that really is a new oil filter.'

          •  So it's really too bad (7+ / 0-)

            that the Times didn't take the Edwards campaign up on its initial offer to put them in touch with beneficiaries, because then we'd know whether the campaign would have attempted to mislead or whether they'd have been straightforward.  And it's conceivable that in that omission the Times deprived itself of a legitimate story.  

            As you say, we don't know what was spent for what, and if they won't release it, it seems like it must be because they know that releasing it would be a bigger story than not doing so.  Would that bigger story be legitimate - involving something that all but die-hard Edwards supporters would see as a problem - or would it be essentially trumped up?  Unfortunately, the current media environment makes that question kind of irrelevant and possibly unanswerable.  

            I tend to side with Ezra.  This is not in the grand scheme of things (ie the current political landscape) very much money we're talking about, at all, and Edwards did have concrete and significant accomplishments under the Center's auspices.  Taken as a whole it looks to me like a very good use of money.

            •  I agree with this (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ghost2, Newsie8200, Bronxist, Geekesque

              (mostly at least).

              I have a suspicion that the Times figured out that Edwards wanted them to talk to students' testimony, decided it was irrelevant to the question of the Center's peculiar finances, and turned Edwards down. They may have wanted to avoid the counter-charge that they talked to students but excluded their testimony from the story (?).

              Edwards has done good work, which is why I'm not pleased that he seems to play loose on the margin of things. I don't want another candidate who makes excuses.

              •  I couldn't agree more -- (0+ / 0-)

                and yet, who's the candidate you dream of who doesn't "make excuses"?

                Here's where I split from you Smintheus -- I don't think that candidate is out there (and you know that offering one up is simply an invitation to the inevitable contrary, and probably supportable, arguments), so I'm settling for the one who makes the least number of important excuses.

                Particularly when it comes to making excuses for betraying fundamental progressive issues . . . .

            •  oh, and part of the problem is (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bronxist, Geekesque

              that the last year's filings for the Center have not been submitted. Given the curious facts found in the previous year's filing, the delay causes concern; this is just the period in which Edwards was ramping up his overt campaign work.

              •  Despite your previous posts (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                where you seem to be trying to appear objective, this post clearly shows that isn't the case.

                "ramping up his overt campaign work"

                and you trollrated Tom above for calling you on exactly what you are doing.

                "The best way to leave Iraq is to start leaving." -- John Edwards

                by okamichan13 on Mon Jun 25, 2007 at 09:10:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  The student in the original BW story (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            smintheus, moosely2006

            was in a CNN piece I saw on Friday. His name is Tony Tyson.

            He's the only student I've seen who has been made available to the media by the Edwards campaign, but I assume that he's not the only one who has been helped by the scholarships. In the CNN chyron, he was defined as an Edwards campaign volunteer.

            Visit my blog Penndit for complete TV alerts & more.

            by Newsie8200 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 01:12:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, if we go by the standard you are (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            moosely2006, ashlarah

            setting up, then we could question whether or not Bill Clinton's appearance on behalf of his foundation are in effect benefitting Hillary's campaign and have been setting her up long before she declared.  An awful lot of public servants who have taken up charitable causes could easily be scrutinized with a net cast this wide.  Imagine if the standard was that public servants in between jobs couldn't pursue charitable causes because someone might question their motives when they ran for office the next time.

            I don't think these questions are fair questions at all actually.  How does one quantify how much Edwards got out of the deal and how much "poverty" got?  Frankly, it seems to me that the issue of poverty has finally gotten a leg up in our political debate and since the mission of the center was to raise awareness it is hard to argue that the mission has not been both pursued and to some degree accomplished.

            I'll add that I don't read newspaper articles to get a list of rather vague and open-ended questions about an issue.  Op-Eds - fine - but A1 above-the-fold articles should provide a bit more than ignorant speculation and questions on any given topic.  The author could have easily done a survey of leading anti-poverty groups to assess the relative success of Edwards' initiatives, but the author did not do that.  Nor did the author offer any valid argument as to why a person who is committed to an anti-poverty agenda should not be rewarded with the presidency or some other place in the public trust.

            The author could not address any of those questions because it would have undermined the mission of the article which was to discredit not only Edwards, but also the issue of poverty itself.  Or the author is beyond stupid and lazy as well.

        •  In a post at Talk Left (5+ / 0-)

          BruceMcF really addresses your question.  This has been vetted previously.

          Why is this something to explain? (5.00 / 3) (#18)
          by BruceMcF on Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 05:39:59 PM EST

             ... a good, hard hitting and relevant story about something John Edwards should explain, his employment of political operatives in his non-profit poverty organization

          The not-tax-exempt Center for Promise and Opportunity is a 501(c)(4), a "social welfare organization", allowed unlimited lobbying and education, but not campaigning ... and along with that, of course, contributions are not tax exempt. There is plenty for a political operative to be doing at a 501(c)(4).

          And if they are free to work on poverty programs because they hope you will run for President and they hope to work on that campaign ... what in the heck is wrong with that? That much of the story is a step below the Obama fax machine storm in a tea cup ... its complying with both the letter and the spirit of the law. A 501(c)(4) is allowed to be political in pursuit of its objective, as long as that falls in the tax code definitions of lobbying and education, and any "political activity" in the tax code definition is restricted to the membership.

          Saying that netroots is softpedalling is silly ... this tax code stuff is complex, and it often takes until the weekend for the lawyers to get to blog with the details ... I got those details (and more) that I rattled from a diary on the tax law posted by ElaineinIN, Edwards' Nonprofits: Here's some tax law, and comments there like burrow owl's Here's the quick and dirty summary  

          Of course, this is all simpler for a sitting Senator, since the House and Senate voted themselves the power to roll over their re-election campaign funds into Presidential election campaign funds, so an entire running re-elect campaign operation can be transformed to a Presidential election campaign operation without any of this complex PAC plus taxable not-for-profit plus non-taxable not-for-profit framework that is used to pursue public policy reform in the private sector.

          It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

          by pioneer111 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 12:17:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  one major problem with Greg Sargent's piece (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is an omission that he also made IIRC in his earlier post. He completely excludes the question of the huge sums that the Center spent on (a) consultants, and (b) fundraising. Those two things constituted more than half of all outlays by the Center in the last filing year (again, IIRC).

          I don't see how Sargent can make a case that the Times vastly over-reached in implying that the Center primarily benefited Edwards' presidential campaign, when he neglects to mention the things it spent the most money on.

          •  Show me a non-profit that doesn't do fundraising (0+ / 0-)

            or hire consultants or other experts in efforts to accomplish their stated purpose, whatever it is.  Non-profit charitable organizations raise funds....that's what they do.  They spend some of the funds they raise on experts, either on-staff or as consultants to better achieve their goals.  

            If this article, or any readers here want to say that the only purpose of these organizations was to build visibility for John Edwards '08 campaign, then I would like to see evaluations of a) other charitable groups with a similar stated mission and b) other charitable groups who do not spend a portion of the money on travel, seminars, speeches for the head of the organization or its other representatives.  

            Seriously.  Lets compare apples to apples here.  

            There's no "there" there.  The "story" was written poorly (a more commonplace occurrence in the MSM than most of us would like to see) and does not prove its point.

      •  Your troll rating was (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Predictor, okamichan13

        quite childish.  It added nothing to the discussion.  I stand by my statement.

        You demand responses to vague accusations that John Edwards obeyed the law.

        "We've got to save America from this President." John Edwards 4/3/07

        by TomP on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 02:50:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  my, my: a troll rating from an Edwards blogger (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Care to explain yourself, okamichan13? A troll-rating for calling out a trollish comment, perhaps?

        The more I see of the Edwards' partisans, the less impressed I become.

    •  Some would say the war in Iraq (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is perfectly legal, but it's not a just war.  It's about integrity, not being able to find the legal loopholes to have a political campaign AND not have to pay taxes on the money given.

      Winning without Delay.

      by ljm on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:58:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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