Thursday, August 16, 2007

John Edwards has spent several months lambasting Fox News Channel; its parent company, News Corp.; and Rupert Murdoch, the founder, chairman and CEO of News Corp. Calling upon all other Democratic presidential candidates to return contributions from News Corp. employees, Mr. Edwards insisted that “every dime” of the $500,000 advance he received from News Corp. subsidiary HarperCollins Publishers for a book project about homes “has gone to charity.” It seems that one of the charities is College for Everyone, which Mr. Edwards himself established and has been citing throughout his campaign. Thus, while condemning Mr. Murdoch and Fox, it is clear that Mr. Edwards has funneled money from a News Corp. subsidiary to his own charity. Campaign Communications Director Chris Kofinis refused yesterday to tell The Washington Times how much of the $500,000 went to College for Everyone.

The book project involved a second advance: $300,000 for expenses. In April, when Mr. Edwards called upon his opponents to boycott a debate sponsored by Fox News Channel and the Congressional Black Caucus, his deputy campaign manager, Jonathan Prince, said, “We believe there’s just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they’re objective.” That would be the same Jonathan Prince who shared in the $300,000 advance with Cate Edwards, the candidate’s daughter. Both are listed as the co-authors. Mr. Kofinis refused yesterday to say how much of the $300,000 advance went to Mr. Prince and Miss Edwards. For the record, Mr. Edwards had appeared on Fox News programs at least 33 times.

Mr. Edwards’s rank hypocrisy is boundless. While jointly spreading fear about global warming and fossil-fuel-related greenhouse gases, he and his wife, Elizabeth, built a 28,000 square-foot house in North Carolina, which he claims to be “carbon neutral” but whose utility bills he and his campaign have refused to share with the public.

There’s the nearly $500,000 he pocketed as a 15-month consultant to the Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm with $30 billion in assets. Fortress’s hedge funds are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, enabling investors to delay or avoid paying U.S. taxes — a policy Mr. Edwards has vehemently condemned. Mr. Edwards claims he signed up with Fortress to learn the relationship between capital and poverty, but he says he did not know that Fortress had greatly expanded its subprime-mortgage operations while he was a consultant and investor. Moreover, during his Katrina-related New Orleans speech in which he formally announced his candidacy for president, Mr. Edwards neglected to mention that a Fortress subsidiary had pursued efforts to hold a 67-year-old New Orleans resident in default on her subprime mortgage in October 2005, two months after Hurricane Katrina flooded her out of her house.

There’s his widely scorned $400 haircuts, a couple of which were originally charged to his current presidential campaign before they became public. (During the 2004 general-election campaign, Mr. Edwards paid up to $1,250 for his haircuts, but a spokeswoman reminded The Washington Times that $1,100 of that amount was spent flying his hair stylist from Beverly Hills to Atlanta and paying for his travel time and hotel expenses — a detail that no doubt resonates throughout middle America.)

There’s his famous $55,000 speech on poverty — it was titled “Poverty, the Great Moral Issue Facing America” — to a crowd of 1,787 at the taxpayer-subsidized University of California at Davis. His spokeswoman pointed out that part of that fee went to the booking agent. She also noted that former president Bill Clinton charged $100,000 for a UC-Davis speech, although she insisted that she wasn’t comparing a two-term president with a one-term senator, who, by the way, would not have won re-election.

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