Local Politics

Edwards visits donor's farm amid grand jury investigation

Posted December 11, 2009

— Two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday visited the property of a major campaign supporter, WRAL News has learned.

Edwards takes trip on donor's plane Edwards takes trip on donor's plane

The trip to Rachel "Bunny" Mellon's farm in Upperville, Va., comes as a federal grand jury in Raleigh is looking into how Edwards spent campaign funds.

Edwards admitted in August 2008 – eight months after dropping out of the presidential race – that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter, who had been hired by his campaign to produce promotional videos. He said the affair ended in 2006, and he has denied fathering her daughter, who was born in early 2008.

A book by former Edwards aide Andrew Young, which is due out in February, claims Mellon contributed money to keep Edwards' affair quiet, a source told WRAL News. Young previously said he was the father of Hunter's daughter, but he claims in the book that Edwards is the girl's father.

Fred Baron, Edwards' campaign finance chairman who died last year of cancer, previously acknowledged that he paid for Hunter and Young's family to resettle in California. He said he provided the money on his own.

Mellon, a 99-year-old heiress to the fortunes of both 19th century industrialist Andrew Mellon and the Warner-Lambert pharmaceutical company, was a major political contributor to Edwards in his 2008 presidential campaign. She gave $3.4 million in late 2007 to The Alliance for a New America, a nonprofit supporting his candidacy.

The private jet that Edwards flew on Friday is registered to Oak Springs Farms, the corporate entity that holds Mellon's fortune. The flight plan had the plane landing at Mellon's private airstrip.

Edwards' friend and former law partner, David Kirby, also was on the plane.

Edwards declined to comment Friday while walking across the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. His attorney, Wade Smith, also declined to comment.

Kieran Shanahan, a defense attorney in Raleigh and a former federal prosecutor, said Edwards' trip raises questions.

"I'd be very disappointed if I had a client making contact or having any association with anyone in an investigation, especially a witness," Shanahan said.

Sources have told WRAL News that they expect Edwards to publicly admit paternity of the child, most likely after the investigation into the use of his campaign funds is over.

8 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Suasponte Dec 11, 7:46 p.m.

    Visiting his baby's momma???

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 11, 7:42 p.m.

    "General Aviation or not... how did a news crew get on the tarmac at RDU? So much for Homeland Security and TSA. But if you so much as crack open your car door when pulling up to a main terminal...
    - dta27615"

    Instead of worrying about Edwards tampering with a witness in the grand jury investigation which is a felony, you try to shoot the messenger who brought this story to light.

  • liskm Dec 11, 7:32 p.m.

    Does anyone really care what he is doing? He is history, washed up...

  • dws Dec 11, 7:18 p.m.

    perhaps we'll get lucky and VA will adopt him as a citizen

  • THE ETERNAL Dec 11, 7:11 p.m.

    Edwards should definitely be considered for a special service award in American government.

  • itsmyownopinion Dec 11, 7:09 p.m.

    "The flight plan had the plane landing at Mellon's private airstrip."

    Did you read the article, dta?

  • 4Strikes Dec 11, 7:06 p.m.

    "General Aviation or not... how did a news crew get on the tarmac at RDU? So much for Homeland Security and TSA. But if you so much as crack open your car door when pulling up to a main terminal..."

    Have you ever been to RDU?

  • dta27615 Dec 11, 6:39 p.m.

    General Aviation or not... how did a news crew get on the tarmac at RDU? So much for Homeland Security and TSA. But if you so much as crack open your car door when pulling up to a main terminal...