LOS ANGELES, July 24 (UPI) -- A well-known Los Angeles lawyer could face felony charges for illegal campaign contributions.
Lawyers for Pierce O'Donnell say the U.S. Justice Department has made him a target for political reasons, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
The newspaper cites sources who say that a federal grand jury is investigating O'Donnell's contributions to the presidential campaign of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. The sources say the U.S. Attorney's Office has rejected O'Donnell's offer to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, insisting on his admitting a felony charge that would mean he could no longer practice law.
O'Donnell allegedly encouraged employees of his law firm to contribute to Edwards' Democratic presidential campaign and repaid those who made gifts. His lawyers have assembled a list of cases where campaign wrongdoing involving larger amounts of money was handled administratively by the Federal Election Commission.
Even some Republicans question whether O'Donnell deserves a felony charge, the newspaper said.
"There are very legitimate questions as to how one can justify imposing a professional death penalty over this type of conduct," said George Terwilliger III, who was a legal adviser in the Florida recount in 2002 and served in the Justice Department under President George H.W. Bush.