Saturday, January 24, 2004

Bait and Switch

John Edwards seems too good to be true - so in the eyes of conservatives, he must be. Such is Jonathan V. Last's conclusion in The Weekly Standard. Unfortunately, the facts he offers don't support the conclusions he draws.

In his article, Last reports on John Edwards' answers to questions at a recent New Hampshire rally:

[O]ne of them is a man asking Edwards where the money in his campaign comes from.
Edwards uses the occasion to boast about how he refuses to take money from PACs or lobbyists. "I raise money from individuals," Edwards says. When the questioner asks Edwards to name the individuals, the candidate promises to provide him with a list.

Note the bait - John Edwards' donors. Under law, candidates are required to disclose donors who contribute more than $200 to their campaigns. John Edwards has complied with that requirement, and as such, his donors are available from the Federal Election Commission. For reference, John Edwards' 2003 Q3 donors, John Edwards' 2003 Q2 donors, John Edwards' 2003 Q1 donors. These are the facts.

But like every conservative, Last does not allow the facts to influence his conclusions. Instead, he points to a recent Washington Post editorial on John Edwards' fundraisers, whose names he's yet to disclose, as evidence that Edwards has not provided such a list.

This morning's Washington Post features an editorial charging that Edwards is "alone among the serious candidates for president" who has declined "to provide a list of his major campaign financiers." (1) Unless Edwards is going to give his questioner more information than he was willing to give the Post, he lied; and (2) His claim about not taking money from lobbyists is deliberately misleading. . . . Eventually, this kind of cuteness catches up with a candidate.

Note the switch - John Edwards' fundraisers. Unlike donors, candidates are not required to disclose their fundraisers. Several have; Edwards is not among them. While that secrecy may be unwise, it does not change the facts: contrary to (1), John Edwards has provided a list of his donors, and contrary to (2), John Edwards' donors do not include Washington lobbyists.

Put simply, Last is a liar. John Edwards is not.

It's unfortunate that this kind of "cuteness" rarely catches up with a reporter.