New York — Former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate John Edwards may have left the campaign trail, but a committee in his name is still spending campaign funds.
Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show the John Edwards for President committee spent $480,000 so far in 2009 on travel expenses, hotels, legal fees, consulting and campaign salaries. The committee has $3.7 million left in its account.
Raleigh attorney Michael Weisel says it is not unusual for work to continue long after the campaign is over.
“To wind down the campaign, to close the books and to answers questions anybody had,” Weisel said of fund uses.
Weisel, who has no involvement with the Edwards campaign, also says campaign money can not be used for personal reasons. However, funds can be used to settle legal matters related to the campaign.
"Questions have been raised and they ought to be answered. So I am not in the least bit surprised that half a million dollars has been expended,” Weisel said.
Edwards has shunned the spotlight since admitting in August 2008 to an affair with a campaign staffer. At the time, he denied fathering the child of videographer Rielle Hunter, saying his relationship with Hunter ended before the child was conceived.
A federal grand jury is investigating whether Edwards' campaign funds were illegally paid to Hunter to keep her quiet about the affair.
Andrew Young, a long-time Edwards aide, initially claimed to be the father of Hunter's child, but he is reportedly writing a book in which he will claim Edwards is the father. Sources told WRAL News last month that Edwards could admit to paternity after the criminal investigation into the use of his campaign funds is over.
A second Edwards account, from his 2004 run for the White House, lists no expenses, but has $330,000 in debt.
Edwards, 55, powered onto the national scene in 1998, when he won a seat for the U.S. Senate in his first political campaign. The former trial lawyer ran for the White House in 2004 and was tapped as Sen. John Kerry's running mate. He returned to the campaign trail in a 2008 presidential bid but was largely overshadowed by a duel between Hillary Clinton, vying to be the first female president, and Barack Obama, vying to be the first black president.