Group blasts Dallas attorney for role in Edwards' scandal

Chris Rizo Aug. 11, 2008, 12:43pm

Fred Baron

AUSTIN (Legal Newsline)- One of the leading legal reform groups in Texas has taken aim at Dallas trial lawyer Fred Baron, who admitted to paying John Edwards' former mistress.

Calling Baron the "asbestos lawsuit king," Texans for Lawsuit Reform said the attorney helped fellow plaintiffs' lawyer Edwards rake in campaign cash during his unsuccessful 2008 run for the Democratic presidential nomination at the same time the former North Carolina senator was having an extra-marital affair with one of his campaign's consultants.

Edwards' affair with his campaign videographer Rielle Hunter was supposed to have ended in late 2006.

Baron, who was chairman of Edwards' presidential campaign finance committee, told The Dallas Morning News he paid Edwards' former mistress to leave Chapel Hill, N.C., because she was being hounded by the National Enquirer, which was onto the couple's trysts.

"I made a decision on my own, without talking to Edwards or anybody, to try to help them move to a community to try to get away from those folks," Baron was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Baron claims he paid Hunter directly, using his own money and not campaign funds.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform Chairman and CEO Dick Weekley said Baron's role in the Edwards' scandal reflects an "appalling disregard for honesty and integrity."

"We may never know how much money Fred Baron spent to cover up the story of John Edwards' affair, but covering-up is nothing new for the asbestos lawsuit king," Weekley said. "Baron routinely makes huge campaign contributions to groups with names like 'Texas Values' and 'Public Justice' to hide the truth from voters -- that the funding comes from the wealth he acquired as a personal injury trial lawyer."

Baron has contributed $1.82 million in the current political cycle in Texas, making him the second largest single contributor in state, a TLR statement said.

Baron, founder of Baron & Budd, P.C., amassed a fortune representing plaintiffs in asbestos exposure lawsuits who had no "discernible health impairments" at the time the lawsuits were filed, Texans for Lawsuit Reform said.

The group said the lawsuits brought by Baron bankrupted 70 U.S. companies and cost tens of thousands of American workers their jobs or benefits.

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