Report: Fred Baron paid for Rielle Hunter’s hideaway

by Walter Olson on August 8, 2008

We described the Dallas attorney as poster boy for legal ethics for his astoundingly brazen conduct in the scandal over an asbestos testimony-coaching memo. Now his name is hitting front pages on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair:

Dallas lawyer Fred Baron told The Dallas Morning News today that he paid relocation and housing expenses for the woman that former presidential candidate John Edwards has confessed to having an affair with.

Mr. Baron, who was chairman of Mr. Edwards’ presidential campaign finance committee, said he paid money for Rielle Hunter to move from North Carolina to another location. …

He said Mr. Edwards did not know about the arrangement.

(Gromer Jeffers Jr., “Dallas lawyer Fred Baron paid for Edwards’ mistress to relocate”, Dallas Morning News, Aug. 8).

More coverage of Edwards’s (partial or otherwise) confession: ABC News, AP, Memeorandum, Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith/Politico, News & Observer, Just One Minute, Shaun Mullen/Moderate Voice. Readers will remember that Ted had the story very, very early, before it was much noticed even on the blogs (more). As for Edwards’s own credibility, Mickey Kaus, whose news judgment in pursuing the matter now stands vindicated, has this to say: “There is now one player in this scandal with far less credibility than the National Enquirer, after all.”

More: Byron York at NRO “Corner” quotes the Raleigh News & Observer account with Baron’s statement:

“I decided independently to help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to conduct a normal life,” Baron, a Dallas trial lawyer said in a statement, Rob Christensen reports.

“John Edwards was not aware that assistance was provided to anyone involved in this matter,” Baron said. “I did it of my own voilition and without the knowledge, instruction, or suggestion of John Edwards or anyone else. The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.”

York points out:

Hunter and Young, the recipients of Baron’s generosity, were not high-ranking officials in the Edwards campaign. How Baron got to know them and how he decided to fund their move to California, and why he decided to do so without Edwards’ knowledge, might be the subject of more questions as the Edwards matter goes forward.

Blogger Gina Cobb hopes the window of Baron’s generosity is still open:

I am touched and moved by your generosity. I especially like the part about “The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.” Accordingly, I would like to request the same generosity from you. Henceforward, I would like you to rent me an enormous house and pay my living expenses in perpetuity. I can assure you that the assistance you offer will be accepted without condition.

And see Ted’s follow-up post.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Yes, I’m being facetious
08.09.08 at 9:33 am
Baron money trail forced Edwards’ hand
08.10.08 at 12:48 am
Michelle Malkin » All about Silky’s trial lawyer/hush-money fixer
08.10.08 at 1:24 pm

{ 5 comments }

1 Bumper 08.09.08 at 12:55 am

The most incredible cop-out I do believe I have ever read:

“In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up — feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself,” he said. (Foxnews.com)

Don’t blame me, blame politics. All that campaigning just made me horny and I couldn’t help myself. Cue the Flip Wilson voice, and paraphrase it, “the campaign made me do it.”

On the other hand, I can’t recall any evidence that before he got into politics the Breck Boy wasn’t “egocentric and narcissistic.”

2 Ted Frank 08.09.08 at 9:13 am

The Fred Baron donations are potentially the biggest story, because undisclosed money spent to benefit a presidential candidate is, I believe, a felony.

NB that the Washington Post reports suggest that these are payments potentially worth millions.

3 Tom 08.09.08 at 12:41 pm

Do you think that Baron will join his colleagues like Weitz and Scruggs etc. who have drained the GDP of America of billions before leading the class action felon parade. How long will this love affair with trail lawyers continue to lay america prostrate at the feet of these ignobles. 2 Americas is right, their America and our America,

4 Mary Kay 08.10.08 at 11:28 pm

The John Edwards for President Campaign paid Baron $389,698.45, according to the Federal Election Commission. Did he use any of this money to pay off Edwards’ mistress and her accomplice, Andrew Young? If he did, he broke the law and this becomes more than just a sleazy adultery scandal by a very sleazy politician. In NC, we used to call Edwards “Bill Clinton, without the girlfriend.” Boy were we wrong!

5 Walter Olson 08.10.08 at 11:57 pm

This post at Patterico considers the campaign expenditure raised by Mary Kay, but Baron himself responds that the $389K payments were to cover aviation expenses, that is, campaign flights taken in Baron’s aircraft.

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