Watchdog group slams John Edwards indictment

Posted September 21, 2011 12:26 p.m. EDT
Updated September 21, 2011 4:02 p.m. EDT

— A government watchdog group wants to support John Edwards in a campaign finance case against the former presidential candidate.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked a court Wednesday for permission to file a motion on behalf of Edwards. The group says the federal government's case against Edwards would radically alter campaign law for the worse if it succeeds.

"If the monetary payments at issue, made by third parties to other third parties for non-campaign related expenses, are property deemed 'contributions under the (Federal Election Campaign Act), a host of other third-party payments, ranging from payments to pay off personal debts to payments for overdue child support, also could be treated as contributions," the group said in its motion.

Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director, says the group isn't seeking to defend Edwards' personal conduct.

The former senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee is accused of using campaign funds to cover up an affair during his run for the White House. He has pleaded not guilty.

His trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Federal prosecutors have balked at the watchdog group's effort to intervene in the case, the group noted in its motion. Prosecutors have never objected when the group has supported their cases, the group said.