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527 Group Supportive of Edwards Backed by Mellon Money

By Matthew Mosk
Caucusgoers in Iowa and New Hampshire have already seen signs of the heavy hand of independent groups trying to influence the outcome of the 2008 presidential contest.

527 donor Bunny Mellon, as she's known, and her husband Paul in a 1967 photo. (The Washington Post)

For the most part, the activity has been financed by labor unions, which have long been a potent force in Democratic electoral politics. But newly public documents filed with the Federal Election Commission this week show there has also been a hefty infusion of private money behind the efforts of Alliance for a New America, a group that is promoting the candidacy of Democrat John Edwards.

The filing shows that on Dec. 19, the Alliance group received $495,000 from Oak Spring Farms LLC, a corporate entity operating from a posh hotel on Central Park South in New York City. Land records and other documents trace the Oak Spring corporation to Manhattan trust attorney Alexander Forger. Forger holds a power of attorney for Rachel Lambert Mellon, who is 97 years old. Other records and published reports show Oak Spring Farms is controlled by Rachel Mellon.

Mellon, known in social circles as "Bunny," is the widow of Paul Mellon and daughter-in-law of industrialist Andrew Mellon. Paul Mellon also had a home in Virginia known as Oak Spring Farms.

The same Oak Springs group made a $250,000 contribution to the Edwards-affiliated One America 527 group in 2006. That contribution prompted a report in the New York Sun which raised questions about the way contributions could arrive anonymously.

Edwards has made campaign-finance purity a major component of his campaign, disavowing contributions from special interests and political action committees, and becoming the only major candidate to accept public matching money.

A message left at Forger's office has not been returned. He told The Sun in 2006, regarding the One America contribution: "I'm simply acting on behalf of somebody else."

Mellon's involvement in the decision to donate to the Alliance group is unknown. But published reports and federal election records show Forger has been a major supporter of Edwards' candidacy. Crain's Business Journal reported in February that Forger and "a group of prominent New York lawyers" hosted a fund-raiser for Edwards at Essex House -- the Central Park South address where his office is located.

Forger has also personally donated $4,600 to Edwards' campaign, according to FEC records.

The group Alliance for a New America reported in the same FEC filing that it made a $798,797 purchase for television advertising.

"We are pleased to help support this organization and have allies who believe that issues like universal health care, the well-being of the middle-class and a strong economy warrant a positive discussion," said Dave Regan, President of SEIU District 1199, a union whose affliliates have been the major sponsor of the group, in response to an e-mail asking about Oak Spring Farms.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 28, 2007; 3:25 PM ET
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Posted by: Diana | April 8, 2008 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mrs. Mellon, for helping to fight the good fight to help working Americans and poor Americans who need health care and cannot afford it. Thank you for being the generous example and counterweight to those wealthy Americans who only think of their own selfish interests.

Posted by: CyberCitizen | December 30, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

RE: Edwards pulling a fast one with 527s

Read the research the DailyKos did on Edwards' 527.

(1)A 527 is supposed to advocate "issues" NOT candidates. The 527 ads supporting Edwards clearly advocate for him, so it's not abiding by the law. When you advocate for a candidate, you're supposed to set-up as a PAC.
(2)The donors of the 527 INCLUDE PACs (see link on DailyKos).
(3)The 527 is run by an Edwards campaign manager (Nick Baldick) who was on his payroll this past spring.
(4)This isn't the first time Edwards has done this. Before the 2004 Iowa caucus, another Edwards aide, Jonathan Prince, left to form a 527 that spent money on advertising for Edwards in Iowa.

Edwards may be hiding behind a smokescreen of "legalese" but it is clear that he is exploiting a loophole in campaign finance laws to get more advertising dollars spent on his behalf in Iowa. Also, since PACs are contributing to the 527, Edwards is benefiting from PAC money.

He is playing a game of "the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing" - only they do. Edwards is playing a game of "legalese" with this 527 issue - he talks against them, but when he can't raise as much money as his rivals, he sends out his top brass to start/work with 527s to funnel advertising dollars into Iowa on his behalf, then claims that he is not "coordinating" with them and makes a false show of "asking them to stop". Edwards is a phony. And it's one thing if some totally separate group sets up a 527 - it's quite another if your own people have a history of leaving your campaign before the Iowa caucus (in 2004, now in 2008) to work for a 527 which funnels advertising dollars into Iowa on your behalf.

Posted by: writeava | December 29, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Anyone see anything negative on Hilary Clinton in the media or the WP since this is where the article is? Come up with your own questions on that one.

Posted by: terpsrb74 | December 29, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

it probably wouldn't be so suspecious if they waited for the general election instead of the primaries. or had someone in charge of 527 who wasn't from the edwards campaign.

Posted by: wtobie | December 29, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

i CAN'T TRUST ANYBODY ANYMORE?? Maybe Edwards should stop talking about "corporate greed", because this way of taking money is "politician greed". Insteed of having his friends at his side, he sent them in the shadow so they could fool the american people while he is talking about special interests. How this is different from Karl Rove Politic?

Posted by: christophefiero | December 29, 2007 3:10 AM | Report abuse

for the last time, john edwards cannot talk to these groups, and they cannot talk to him. they are part of the law, that's the way things are right now, but edwards cannot control them even if he wanted to, and that's part of what he and the rest of them don't like.

if he can't do anything about it, then HOW is this hypocrisy exactly? you're pulling him over for obeying the speed limit when the rest of traffic is driving like a maniac!

these groups, like the 527 group supporting obama in california, may be with good intentions to their candidate, but they could also be trouble, cuz the candidates cannot control them.

duh, it's why they say they 'i approve this message' at the end, so you know what is coming straight from their campaign and what isn't.

obama's blog patrol is out again. i'm really impressed how many are pretending to be republicans and dissing edwards' wealth left and right. you must have gotten a new script from the obama campaign.

Posted by: kenshin1 | December 29, 2007 2:52 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. Mellon is DEFINITELY of sound mind - Much better mind than most of those responding here - She is a supporter of Senator Edwards with NO strings attached - Merely a wonderfully patriotic American!!!!!! How refreshing in today's world to give without wanting something in return - BRAVO BUNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Brjucah | December 29, 2007 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Many of us know which side Edwards is on.

That is what matters.

Those Democrats who want to equate unions with insurance companies, wealthy liberals with wealthy conservatives, go for it.

I'll stand with Krugman in this matter, as to which side Edwards is on.

Posted by: citizen53 | December 28, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Gee, is it wrong for someone with the last name of Mellon to support progressive change in this country? It wouldn't be the first time a wealthy progressive challenged the greedy corporatists.

Reminds me of FDR who was extraordinarily wealthy and took on the powerbrokers to help all Americans.

Since when did it become suspicious for those who have to help provide the vehicle for change to make our country a better place for all?

Posted by: edgery1 | December 28, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Why does John always look and sound like everyone is guilty and he would love to nail them?

Posted by: FebM | December 28, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Living in Pittsburgh has been entertaining this year. The laugh till you drop Pittsburgh Post Gazette stories about Richard Mellon Scaife and the marriage separation from wife, Ritchie. Oh those crazy kids and their antics. Richard Mellon Scaife is another one of those multi millionaires who recieve lots of money for nothing but having wealthy ancestors. Scaifes funding was behind a campaign against the Clintons problems of Whitewater. We remember those days but it was very wasteful spending indeed for Scaife. See David Brock of Media Matters, book Blinded By the Light for more info on Scaife and his almighty campaign to squash the evil democrats. He also funded a think tank called The Heritage Foundation which seats the greatest number of brainless but dedicated honorary members to do the work of a permanent GOP majority. Well, Im still jealous that Scaife pays 14 per cent on his capital gains. Warren Buffet was right that Buffets tax burden was smaller than his secretary. The difference is that Buffet knows that his tax burden compared to his secretarys is downright wrong.

Posted by: lhotak | December 28, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, a candidate is walking the talk as much as any candidate can walk the talk and still get elected in this country and not receiving any credit for it.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear this article and some of the comments posted were indicative of the infamous "whisper campaigns" of Karl Rove that got our country into this "Bush Mess" in the first place!

John Edwards is a good man attempting to do some solid good for this country. It's about time a politician stand up for real Americans. And it's about time the "media" recognize that for what it is... real courage to create real change for our country.

Posted by: radiocboy | December 28, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Typically uninformative Mosk piece of insinuation.

Posted by: zukermand | December 28, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Is this lawyer using the power of attorney to give Mrs. Mellon's money to the 527 and other entities to help John Edwards? That stinks on ice. A 97 year old widow.

Posted by: Malia2 | December 28, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

If I remember my history right, FDR was wealthy also.
The main hypocrisy here is the double standard the media holds candidates like Edwards to. Little is made of it when Republicans and corporate Democrats get continous and unending support from the rich and powerful, but when someone like Edwards gets support from the tiny percentage of the rich who are actually progressive, it's a scandal and somehow is taken to prove he's insincere.
Conveniently lost in the balderdash, is Edwards' message: the rich and corporations have been sucking up an increasing share of the wealth of this nation and gradually impoverishing the rest of us - not just the poor but the increasingly the middleclass as well.
Edwards is exactly right, it's going to take a huge political battle to reverse this trend. Certainly it is not going to be addressed if it's not talked about, and I don't hear any of the other candidates adressing this economic inequality issue head-on the way Edwards is.

Posted by: cameron | December 28, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Do you believe candidates that accept money from lobbyists and Political Action Committees are owned?


Posted by: PollM | December 28, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, gee, I hope this isn't one of those Brooke Astor stories. Do we know if Bunny Mellon is healthy of mind?

Posted by: Jerseycoa | December 28, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I am so pleased to see one rich person supporting another as they fight for the poor.

I wonder if John Edwards made money for Mellon or Forger through his hedge fund connections.

John Edwards always manages to step on his own message and this is just another case of that. I have no problem with 527s but it seems Edwards does and now he benefits from one.

It is the hypocracy of it that is disturbing not the 527 groups advertising.

Posted by: peterdc | December 28, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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