Submitted By Michael Edwards
As scandalous headlines continue to dominate the news, hush money seems to be a topic that is frequently in the spotlight. Many people believe that paying hush money to conceal embarrassing or damaging information is illegal, but that is not necessarily the case. Is it ethical, certainly not in my opinion, but in itself it is not a crime.
In the case that currently has former President Donald Trump in trouble, the “hush money” by itself is not an issue. They are attempting to prosecute him on how it was recorded in his accounting records.
As an example, Tiger Woods a professional golfer was involved in a scandal in 2009 when several women came forward claiming to have had affairs with him. Woods reportedly paid Rachel Uchitel, one of his mistresses, a settlement of $10 million to keep quiet about their relationship.
Another example is the Harvey Weinstein case, in which the former Hollywood producer was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Weinstein allegedly used nondisclosure agreements and hush money to prevent the women from going public with their accusations. While this behavior is certainly unethical, it is not illegal.
Bill Clinton was also involved in a settlement in 1994 with Paula Jones, who accused him of sexual harassment when he was governor of Arkansas. While Clinton did not personally pay Jones any money, he agreed to a settlement of $850,000 to be paid by an insurance policy.
Steve Wynn, The former CEO of Wynn Resorts was accused of sexual misconduct by several women in 2018. Wynn reportedly paid a $7.5 million settlement to a former employee who accused him of pressuring her into having sex.
Critics of hush money argue that it is a way for powerful people to silence those who are weaker or less influential. They point out that it can be used to cover up illegal or unethical behavior and that it is often used to protect the reputation of the wealthy and powerful and they are right, but that doesn’t make it illegal.