Tuesday, August 19, 2008

John Edwards Affair: Edwards Campaign Billings with Fred Baron Raise Questions

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Questions for John Edwards and Fred Baron When Next Either Surfaces to Confront the Press
A "Thank You" to our Network of Readers, Comment-writers and Tipsters!

John Edwards and Edwards\' finance chair, Fred Baron
[Click image to enlarge.]

John Edwards and Fred Baron have had a close relationship over the last ten years. Both Edwards and Baron are successful trial attorneys and both shared the dream of seeing John Edwards elected President.

Baron, however, alleges that he never shared his knowledge of helping Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, and Edwards' operative, Andrew Young, with expenses totaling thousands of dollars. He recently stated that although he admits talking to Elizabeth Edwards about the subject, he more recently stated he never mentioned Rielle Hunter's arrangements to Elizabeth Edwards.

A DBKP reader, known only as "Phil Ander", did some independent research into the Edwards' campaign's use of Fred Baron's private jet and turned up some interesting information--and a LOT of questions about the connection. The research must have taken some time to compile--it took two of us some time just to confirm and follow its weaving, winding trail.

Readers can ask their own questions after reading.

Or, perhaps they will have additional questions of their own.

[Background information: Access almost 100 DBKP stories on the John Edwards affair and cover-up since December: John Edwards Love Child Scandal Library. Updated daily.]

The information on the Internet does not jibe. There is probably a logical explanation but it is not apparent.
1. Reports filed by the Edwards campaign show many (apparently 128) payments for "airfare" to Frederick Baron (Federal Election Commission, fec.gov; opensecrets.org). There are more airfare payments to Frederick Baron than any other airfare payee.

2. There appears to be only one entry for airfare payment to Baron & Budd, of $2,517, according to the Open Secrets website.

3. Baron's full name is Frederick Martin Baron. He lives in Dallas, TX (Wikipedia entry for Fred Baron, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Baron; website for Baron's charitable foundation, Baron & Blue Foundation, baronandbluefdn.org).

4. Baron's Wikipedia page and many news items on the internet state the campaign paid Fred Baron $1.1 million (or other substantial figures, depending on the date reported) to rent his Hawker 800 private jet.

5. FAA records and other sites, such as aircraftdata.net, do not show any aircraft - - whether a Hawker 800 or other aircraft - - registered in the name of Fred or Frederick M. Baron. Two planes are registered to a Fred N. Baron in Garberville, CA. Neither is a Hawker 800. Fred N. Baron seems to be unconnected to Fred/Frederick M. Baron of Dallas, TX.

6 The Hawker 800, formerly manufactured by Raytheon, is now the BAE 125 Series 800, manufactured by British Aerospace and assembled by Hawker Beechcraft, according to the Wikipedia page, Hawker 800 ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_800).

7. A BAE 125 800, N-number 178AX, has been registered to Baron & Budd since January 2006, FAA online aircraft registration data shows.

8. Fred Baron and his wife, Lisa Blue, sometimes known as Lisa Baron, left Baron & Budd in 2002 and litigation ensued between the Barons and the firm. Neither Fred Baron nor Lisa Blue are listed as lawyers at Baron & Budd's website, baronandbudd.com. It seems unlikely the firm's BAE 125 a/k/a Hawker 800 is leased to or actually owned by the Barons.

Some Additional Questions to Ponder

If there are no registration records for an aircraft in Fred Baron's name, why is the campaign paying Frederick Baron for airfare?

If Fred Baron's ownership is through a corporation, why were the payments listed repeatedly to him instead of the corporation?

Assuming there is error, and Fred Baron does, in fact, own a Hawker 800 (or BAE 125 800), why would he engage in the business of leasing it and receiving substantial income in his individual name rather than doing business through a corporation for liability and tax reasons? He is a lawyer and would know to consider a corporation for doing business. He set up a not-for-profit corporation for his charitable foundation, Baron & Blue, so it seems like he would also set up a corporate entity for his aircraft leasing business and require all payments to be made to it.

If a payment were made erroneously to the individual rather to the business once or twice, it could be a simple error, but it seems unusual that dozens of payments would be paid to Baron individually.

Would there not be a difference in accounting for income and being able to deduct expenses for an individual and a corporation?

Would it be possible, if payments were made to an individual for jet leasing, that excess funds could be paid without easy detection and then passed on to other parties?
On the other hand, it seems such an obvious mistake that surely there is some mistake by the campaign in reporting or by Edwards and Baron, both lawyers.
Did Fred Baron personally pay income on the $1.1 million jet lease payments?

Is it possible to obtain flight records to determine how payments were applied to flights?

Can the campaign provide a copy of the contract with Fred Baron for jet leasing and cancelled checks made in payment?

Is it possible to compare flight expense data of Edwards' campaign with other candidates to see if the expenses are in the ballpark?
Does anyone have information on a Hawker 800 or other aircraft owned by Fred/Frederick M. Baron, including registration, N-number (the tail number?) and photos?

On a different topic, if Midline Groove was paid in excess of $114,000 for video production pursuant to a contract, did Midline Groove or the campaign pay Rielle Hunter’s hotel and meals expenses on the road?

Can the campaign provide a contract to make clear how those expenses were paid and to clear up other questions about the services provided?

These questions might be the starting point for the enterprising MSM reporter, when next Fred Baron or John Edwards surfaces to face the press.

If John Edwards continues in seclusion and Fred Baron is hard to reach on the matter, perhaps someone might talk to Julian Chambers, the Edwards' campaign treasurer.

It may just be a mistake or a misunderstanding, but it might take a burden off the shoulders of both John Edwards and/or Fred Baron, if they would clear up a few of these questions.

Or not.

[A BIG hat tip/credit to the intrepid researcher and DBKP reader--you know who you are--known in the comments only as Phil Anderder.]

NOTE: This might be the place to express heartfelt thanks to the many readers who have left interesting information to investigate further or information that is ready to publish. Since December, DBKP readers have provided tips, research, answers and places to for us to dig for more information.

These many readers--and again, you all know who you are--sometimes leave their information in the comments sections of our stories. A few of these comments have excited the curiosity of MSM reporters trying to get up to speed on the Edwards' scandal and it many threads. Several have emailed us with information--some that we can't publish as of yet. We've spoken to several who have emailed us over the phone, as they felt the information was 'too sensitive to put down on paper' and wished to convey it orally.

These readers make DBKP appear to be very smart and well-informed. And so we are--thanks, in large part, to these interested, hard-working readers. As well as to our crack research department.


by Mondoreb
images: dbkp file; Fred Baron

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