Local Politics

Edwards' mistress says ex-aide hatched money schemes

Posted June 22, 2012

Rielle Hunter

— A one-time aide to John Edwards was the mastermind behind schemes to get money from political donors, the two-time presidential candidate's former mistress says in her new book.

Rielle Hunter's memoir, "What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me," went on sale Friday.

Edwards hired Hunter to produce behind-the-scenes videos during his 2008 presidential campaign and wound up having an affair and a daughter with her. He denied the affair until six months after he dropped out of the race for the White House and waited until early 2010 before admitting paternity of Frances Quinn Hunter, now 4.

Federal prosecutors accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million from two wealthy donors to hide Hunter from the public during the early weeks of the campaign, but a jury cleared him last month of accepting illegal campaign contributions. Jurors deadlocked on five other charges, and prosecutors said last week that they have no plans to try Edwards a second time on those charges.

Hunter was never called as a witness in the case, despite receiving a guarantee of immunity from prosecution from government attorneys. She writes, however, that her book amounts to her testimony of her relationship with Edwards and her involvement in the cover-up.

"I am not writing this book as a defense, but everything in it I would repeat under oath. It is the truth. Our daughter deserves that," she wrote.

She called the book "a love story" and said she wanted to write it to get the truth out, noting that she continues to learn new facts about different episodes from the campaign and cover-up.

Hunter blames former Edwards aide Andrew Young for the cover-up, saying it was his idea to claim paternity of Quinn during the campaign and his idea to solicit money to help cover her expenses.

Rielle Hunter's book Mistress' memoir dicusses Edwards' affair, criminal case

Young was the government's star witness in Edwards' trial. He spent five days on the witness stand, detailing his long history with Edwards and the schemes used to get money to hide the affair and keep the presidential campaign going. Defense attorneys painted him as a liar, however, and noted that he spent much of the money that was supposed to go to Hunter on a house he and his wife were building near Chapel Hill and on other personal expenses.

"What I believe is this: Had Johnny known about the money that he supposedly solicited for me, he would have said something to me about it. He would have wanted to make sure that I, his girlfriend and mother of his child, was getting the money – all of it," Hunter wrote. "I mean, really? Andrew the employee, who was already making a substantial salary from Johnny, gets $84,000 and the unemployed girlfriend and mother of his child gets $16,000? Are you kidding me?"

She said Edwards went along with Young's ideas to keep his ailing wife, Elizabeth, from learning that the affair had continued long after he had told her it was over and that Hunter was pregnant.

"I believe Johnny was looking for a life raft to keep himself floating, without her finding out, while he waited for a natural exit from the race, not to be forced out by a tabloid," she wrote. "I don’t believe his saying yes to Andrew’s idea was ever intended to keep his bid for the White House alive.”

Hunter doesn't mince words regarding her opinion of Young, whom she calls "deceptive," or of Elizabeth Edwards, who died of cancer in December 2010.

Young fell in love with Edwards, she wrote, and then found an excuse in her pregnancy to extort money from the donors without Edwards knowing.

"Andrew could pitch Mastercard for his own commercial: Used BMW for the boss' mistress, $28,000; rental house for her, $2,700; ob-gyn bills, $2,500; using the boss' mistress as your cover and lying to everyone about the money you solicited using his name but kept for yourself, priceless."

Hunter also wrote that the "wife as innocent victim" image didn't match the reality of the Edwardses' marriage, which she maintains had been "off the rails" for years.

"What was important to Elizabeth was how she was perceived, what people thought about her, and anything – including the factual truth – that didn’t fit into how Elizabeth wanted to be perceived would cause an extreme reaction. She would go on a venomous attack with complete disregard to the people she was hurting,“ she wrote.

"I underestimated her desire not to know, as well as her attachment to her life in denial. And even more importantly, I underestimated Johnny’s fear of her wrath,“ she continued.

Hunter closes the book by saying she's unsure what the future holds for her and Edwards.

"Johnny and I, because of or despite the fact that we fell head over heels in love, have been through so much awfulness, hardship, heartache and media scrutiny with the wrath of America directed at us, that I think it would appear to almost anyone that the odds of us making it for the long run are not good," she wrote.

"I can honestly say that the ending is of no concern to me anymore. The love is here."


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  • happywgod23 Jun 27, 2012

    You meand this statement by Young is false: " Edwards called him and delivered "a stump speech," Young said, noting Edwards said "this is bigger than all of us" and suggested that Young claim to be the father of Hunter's child."If we give the press something they can understand, they'll go away," Young recalled him saying. "They don't (care) about you. It's me they're after."Both Hunter and Young's wife initially rejected the plan, but they all eventually agreed to it."By this time we were in very deep. We were taking care of and hiding his mistress," Young said. "We believed in the cause. It was something we had worked very hard for eight years."
    He believed in the cause so much he volunteered his services, sheds quite a different light n it doesnt it! Too bad we are on the "To tell the truth" show, which character would stand up- Sadly I think I would put my money on Reille, her story is the only one that makes sense- FOLLOW THE MONEY< IT ALWAYS LEADS TO THE TRUTH!!

  • pw Jun 26, 2012

    Please WRAL let the tabloids take this story and make this go away. This just insults our intelligence and belittles your news station as to being less reputable.

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 25, 2012

    Young needed the money due to Hunter's extravagant requests.

  • msncdso Jun 22, 2012

    Teleman60; who is George Holder?

  • FE Jun 22, 2012

    Who really cares??

    Personally I think it is a close race as to which is more deplorable:

    1) Mistress trying to make a buck by telling all


    2) WRAL continuing to assault us with never-ending John Edwards stories

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 22, 2012

    People are commenting to Cate about Hunter's book on Twitter, and Cate's response can be found here: http://twitter.com/#!/Cate_Edwards

  • Mom on Call Jun 22, 2012

    We don't need to buy the book...she is giving it away for free! Oh, did I really just type that? Hmmmm, seems I did, oh well...shoe fits?

  • Proud Young Grandma Jun 22, 2012

    I actually think Rielle is telling more of the truth than Andrew Young ever did. As for bashing Elizabeth...maybe not smart, but Elizabeth, by many other accounts, is portrayed in the same light. I believe we only saw the side of Elizabeth that she wanted the public to see. Plus, she did not "steal" John away from Elizabeth. Happily married people do not cheat.

  • nannyrhew Jun 22, 2012

    Why is WRAL spending so much time on this trash! Reading exerpts from the book during the news!!! That is not news to some of us. That is lowering the standards of WRAL and I for one am disappointed. I wish you would find real news... we were tired of the Edwards story before it started!

  • jenjengirl89 Jun 22, 2012

    "Edwards hired Hunter to produce behind-the-scenes videos during his 2008 presidential campaign and wound up having an affair..."
    I believe the sequence of events has been reversed in this statement based upon Hunter's other reported statements in the book. By her account, they were intimately involved immediately upon meeting.