Friday, June 3, 2011
John Edwards charged in felony indictment
The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements.
The indictment said the payments were a scheme to protect Edwards' White House ambitions. "A centerpiece of Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man," the indictment said.
The indictment and an arrest warrant were filed in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is in the district where his campaign was headquartered.
Negotiations between Edwards' attorneys and federal prosecutors to settle on a charge to which Edwards was willing to plead guilty continued through Thursday, but proved fruitless, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. Prosecutors had insisted on a plea to a felony, which would endanger his ability to keep his license to practice law.
The centerpiece of the investigation has long been the hundreds of thousands of dollars privately provided by two wealthy Edwards supporters - his former campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, the 100-year-old widow of banking heir Paul Mellon. That money eventually went to keep mistress Rielle Hunter and her out-of-wedlock baby in hiding in 2007 and 2008, during the apex of the Democratic nomination campaign.
Former campaign staffer Andrew Young, who initially claimed paternity of Hunter's child, has said Edwards was aware of the private financial support that helped keep the mistress satisfied and secluded. Prosecutors believe the private gifts should have been considered campaign contributions since they aided his candidacy.
The case opens a new front in how the federal government oversees the flow of money around political campaigns.
at 8:25 AM