According to “Don’t Bet on Fieger Fallout” in The Detroit Free Press,
[c]ampaign finance experts contacted by the Free Press last week were unanimous in their view about what Fieger’s acquittal means for the future of campaign finance law enforcement: next to nothing.
Fieger’s two-pronged trial defense — that federal law does not specifically bar reimbursement and, even if it does, he did not intend to break the law — was a high-wire act that might not work for others.
Using other people as so-called straw donors to funnel campaign cash to a political candidate, as Fieger and his law partner Vernon (Ven) Johnson did for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in 2004, is still against the law, the experts said.
“If anybody came to me and told me they were going to use straw donors because, ‘Well, Fieger did it and he didn’t go to prison,’ I would say, ‘You’re not Geoffrey Fieger,’ ” said Larry Noble, a Washington lawyer and former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission.
Fieger’s acquittal can be explained in various ways, the experts said. Jurors may have been confused by a complicated law aimed at thwarting behavior they hadn’t known was illegal to begin with.
They may have accepted the theory propounded by Fieger and his defense team that the government engaged in overkill when 80 FBI agents raided his office and simultaneously swept out across metro Detroit to conduct interviews with the people he’d reimbursed for making donations to Edwards.