Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Funny Bunny Money? Edwards Jury: Four Days and Counting

It's the old axiom: $400 hair cuts never pay.  Senator Edwards's hairgate episode has resurfaced during the trial in the form of a key handwritten letter written by FOJ heiress, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, to former Edwards aide and star government witness, Andrew Young.  The letter written in response to negative hair press has been dubbed by trial followers as the "haircut letter."  In it, Mellon wrote, "From now on, all haircuts, etc., that are a necessary and IMPORTANT PART OF HIS CAMPAIGN, please send the bills to me. It is a way to help our friend WITHOUT GOVERNMENT RESTRICTIONS."  Over the next 8 months, Mellon sent Young more than $700,000 in checks made out to Young's wife -- payments to support and stash Edwards's mistress and love child.  Another large donor, Fred Barron, also made similar payments.  Neither Mellon (101 years old) nor Barron (deceased) were available to testify at trial.  The jury has been poring over the letter as well as two related letters written by Mellon's personal attorney during its now-four days of deliberations.  The jury is likely stuck on whether payments made to hide Edwards's affair can be reasonably classified as illegal campaign contributions.  Many legal commentators already have poked holes in the government's novel theory of prosecution so I won't bore you with my defense musings.  You can read more here.

Btw, there is a local angle to the case.  Pictured above (stage center just behind D.C. defense superlawyer Abbe Lowell) is the always-dapper DOJ prosecutor and SDFLA alum, Jeff Tsai.  In my former life, I had the pleasure of second-chairing one of Jeff's first trials in the office.  Jeff is a good trial lawyer (and an even better dresser).  His perfect Windsor knots in an office of government schleps were the stuff of legend.  In a different world, he and Senator Edwards would have a beer summit over hair coif tips.  


Rumpole said...

Lowell is no super lawyer. Super-Biller? Sure. But his talent ends there.

Anonymous said...

Jeff should sue the artist for the Tort of False Light. From this picture, you would imagine that the artist has never seen an Asian guy. WTF?

Although, one has to admit that the suit he is wearing does appear to have some style, it is reminiscent of the sketches that a top fashion designer might wear.

Anonymous said...

That picture does Tsai no justice. Nowhere is it clearly indicated that the suit is made-to-measure Armani or Brioni.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean? That sketch is great! I look at it and I can almost hear Jeff intoning:

Officer, where .... [dramatic pause] .... if anywhere ... were you?