Former Democratic presidential candidate and current criminal defendant John Edwards submitted a letter in federal court today disputing the government’s suggestions that his defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, has potential conflicts of interest.
The letter, addressed to federal Judge Catherine Eagles, begins: ”As you know, I am myself an attorney and am aware of the law and rules concerning conflicts of interest.”
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors filed a motion with the court requesting a hearing on the government’s contention that Lowell’s previous representation of two likely prosecution witnesses could impact Edwards’ constitutional rights to an attorney free of conflicts.
“I have considered all the possibilities,” Edwards’ letter continues, ”and I do not see or believe there to be any conflict of interest or even potential conflict of interest between Mr. Lowell’s prior representations and his current representation of me.”
During the criminal investigation of Edwards’ campaign, Lowell represented Lisa Blue , the widow of Edwards’ former campaign finance chairman, Fred Baron. Lowell also advised longtime Edwards’ pollster Harrison Hickman, who the government says was among a small clutch of confidants who made decisions about how to respond to allegations about his affair with Rielle Hunter.
In his letter, Edwards writes that he is “aware of all the issues” raised in the government’s motion and that even if the court were to determine a potential conflict exists, he agrees to “waive any such conflict.”
A brief from Lowell accompanying Edwards’ letter says the response should “assure the Court that any potential conflict of interest issues raised by the government have been carefully considered” and argues that “there is no need for the Court to conduct the extensive hearing suggested by the government in this matter.”
Lowell’s law firm also submitted to the court letters from Blue and Hickman, in which each stated that they had no objection to Lowell representing Edwards, even though both could be called as witnesses if the case goes to trial.
Edwards was charged in June in a six-count criminal indictment alleging that he participated in an illegal scheme to seclude and support his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, while Edwards was seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination. The case centers on more than $900,000 from two wealthy donors: Baron, who died in 2008, and the 101-year-old heiress Rachel Mellon. The government argues those payments were made in violation of federal election finance laws.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all counts in the indictment. A hearing is scheduled for next week on several defense motions to dismiss the charges.