Local Politics

Edwards' appearances at UNC poverty center were few

Posted February 9, 2010

— Two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards oversaw or attended 20 events in his almost two years in charge of an anti-poverty center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Following his defeat in the 2004 presidential election, Edwards was named the founding director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, giving him a platform to continue discussing poverty issues in America.

Former Edwards aide Andrew Young wrote in his new book, "The Politician," that Edwards seldom worked at the center between its February 2005 opening and December 2006, when he left to begin his second bid for the White House.

"On the rare occasions when he was at the center, he did mostly political work, including fundraising," Young wrote, noting that Edwards also used his appointment to try to score tickets to UNC basketball games.

In response to a request from WRAL News, the UNC School of Law this week released a list of events that Edwards appeared at or helped plan.

"Most universities, including UNC, do not require faculty members to maintain a regular schedule, so we did not maintain a record of John Edwards’ weekly schedule," Katie Bowler, assistant dean for communications at the law school, said in an e-mail. "While it was a part-time position, he was still in the office during the academic year one day per week, on average. He spent a good deal of time every week on the phone and in meetings, lining up speakers for center events, fundraising for the center and generally advancing the work of the center, even when not on campus."

The list of his involvement with the center included the following:

Feb. 18, 2005 – Center's kickoff reception

March 22, 2005 – Moderated a UNC School of Government panel discussion, “The Role of Assets in Helping Families Move out of Poverty"

March 29, 2005 – Gave lecture on “The Moral Challenge of Poverty”

Sept. 7, 2005 – Launches Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity Speaker Series

Oct. 4, 2005 – Met with students during a coffee hosted by the center

Oct. 31, 2005 – Hosted discussion with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp, “Toward Common Ground: A Dialogue about Work and Opportunity in America”

Nov. 3, 2005 – Moderated a panel discussion on "Poverty in the Media"

Nov. 9, 2005 – Moderated a panel discussion, “Katrina’s Lessons: Moving Forward in the Fight Against Poverty,” as part of a day-long summit he helped organize, “New Frontiers in Poverty Research and Policy"

Nov. 22, 2005 – Provided introductory remarks for panel discussion, “Strategies for Improving the Wages and Working Conditions of Low-Waged Workers”

Jan. 17, 2006 – Provided introductory remarks for a lecture by state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, "A Conversation on Poverty and Segregation"

Feb. 3, 2006 – Delivers the 2006 William P. Murphy Lecture, an annual lecture series at the UNC School of Law

Feb. 6, 2006 – Guest lecture at a law school class

Feb. 6, 2006 – Met with students participating in the law school's Pro Bono Program

Feb. 14, 2006 – Participated in a panel discussion, "Work and Access to Health Care in America"

March 23-24, 2006 – Delivered welcoming remarks and moderated one panel discussion during a two-day conference, “Challenging the Two Americas: New Policies to Fight Poverty.” As center director, he and his staff developed all of the issues and panels for the conference.

Aug. 31, 2006 – Met with students during the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity Coffee Hour

Sept. 8, 2006 – Moderated "Katrina Panel Revisited"

Oct. 11, 2006 – Moderated a UNC Center on Banking and Finance panel discussion, “The High Cost of Being Poor”

Oct. 23, 2006 – Delivered keynote address at a symposium, “High Poverty Schooling in America: Lessons in Second-Class Citizenship”

Nov. 9. 2006 – Participated in a panel discussion, “Can Schools Make a Difference in the 21st Century? – Education and Workforce Preparation for Youth in America’s Margins”

Edwards' annual salary of $40,000 as center director was funded by private gifts. During his time there, the center received more than $3.3 million in private gifts, including cash and pledges.

Young's 300-page book suggests Edwards put on a public persona to appeal to voters but acted far differently behind the scenes. He depicts Edwards as someone caught up in the trappings of power while railing against the disparity between wealthy and poor Americans.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • dmccall Feb 10, 2010

    $40,000 for THAT?

    I wonder if he donated any of that money to help the cause of poor people who try hard.

  • pupkissstore Feb 9, 2010

    Nothing will ever make me believe that an individual so concerned with poverty can build a house of such ridiculous proportions, get $400.00 haircuts, and spew bull---- so regularly.

  • teacher-mom Feb 9, 2010

    He thought he walked on water...

  • Just the facts mam Feb 9, 2010

    I knew back then it was a political stunt, and UNC(meaning us taxpayers) was being used in his political stunt - so this is no surprise to me. What I do not understand is why the press takes so long to report things like this? Why was this stunt not reported when it was happening? Press bias would be my guess to the answer to this question...

  • USA Feb 9, 2010

    What gets me is that WRAL and the rest of the local media thought he was the best thing since sliced bread back when he was bringing attention to NC, now that he has fallen from grace they jump on the other band wagan and slam him at every opportunity. Don't get me wrong, he deserves everything he gets, but it's amazing how some of us figured it out long ago.

  • CrewMax Feb 9, 2010

    What's the deal? Can you imagine how much trouble it can be to attend meetings about poverty when you're planning the clear-cutting of a hundred acres of forest on which to build your 10,000 sq. foot $6,000,000 home? C'mon.

  • Daria Feb 9, 2010

    It looks like he worked more there than Mary Easley did at NCSU. She was supposed to be a full-time employee.

  • affirmativediversity Feb 9, 2010

    How much did he get paid AND who is the Hagan guy in charge of it now (is he related to our infamous NO SHOW/DON'T CALL Senator)???

  • FloydRTurbo Feb 9, 2010

    A better question ..... why is Gene Nichol being paid $250,000 to do nothing now as the "head" of The Poverty Center ??? There's a story for an investigative journalist .

  • Ready2Taxi Feb 9, 2010

    Typical. Politician in power awards his party's favorite son a prestigious non-job as a way of providing some walking-around money until the next election campaign kicks off.

    "Feeding friends, starving enemies."