Local Politics

Grand jury hearing case against Edwards

Posted May 31, 2011

— A federal grand jury in Raleigh is continuing its work in the case against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

The former U.S. senator faces a possible criminal indictment if the grand jury decides enough evidence exists that he violated campaign finance laws.

When Edwards met last week with the aging donor who contributed money that was allegedly used to cover up Edwards' affair with a campaign staffer, those familiar with the case questioned the timing.

John Edwards case graphic WRAL.com archive: John Edwards case

Former Edwards aide Andrew Young wrote in his tell-all book, "The Politician," that heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon gave Edwards a total of $700,000 as a gift. The so-called "Bunny money" helped fund the cover-up the candidate's affair with video producer Rielle Hunter, who was pregnant with the his child during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Federal agents have interviewed Mellon at least twice during the course of the investigation, sources told WRAL News. Her attorney acknowledged that Edwards visited Mellon's Virginia estate last week but told the Associated Press that they did not discuss the case.

Young told WRAL News in a 2010 interview that Edwards' campaign finance chairman, wealthy Texas lawyer Fred Baron, also financed flights and paid rent on a California home for Hunter and Young's family during the period when Young pretended to be the father of Hunter's baby.

Baron died from cancer in 2008, but his widow appeared before the federal grand jury in Raleigh in January.

The case has been under review by the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., in recent months, and officials recently signed off on prosecuting Edwards.

Grand jury hearing case against Edwards

Sources have told WRAL News that Edwards is considering a plea deal to conclude the investigation. 

Political observers have said the money from Mellon was a campaign contribution and should have been noted in Edwards' campaign finance reports.

"I really think it's an important case," said David McLennan, a political science professor at Peace College. "In my view, the money was no gift. It can't be classified that way because it was to further John Edwards' run for president."

If prosecutors are successful in going after Edwards for not reporting the money, it could have a legal impact on other political candidates and the money that flows around them.

Greg Craig, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing Edwards, issued a statement last week questioning the government's case.

"John Edwards has done wrong in his life – and he knows it better than anyone – but he did not break the law," said Craig, a former White House counsel. "The government's theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law."

59 Comments

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  • flipper59 Jun 2, 8:07 a.m.

    "he made his wife suffer to the grave..."

    She had her own personal White House agendas so don't paint that picture bright red just yet. I'm sorry she had cancer but the timing of news releases concerning her health sure played into Johnny's favor for national public pity a few times. She knew about the love child for sometime and didn't say much until it was the top story in news.

  • flipper59 Jun 2, 8:02 a.m.

    """Ask former Brunswick Co Sherriff Ronald Hewett how that worked out for him. All he did was ask one of his deputies "what did they ask you up in Raleigh?" He just wanted to know what the questions were about since the DA hadn't told him or his attorney what the other possible charges might be. So just for asking the question he got jury tampering added. And Edwards has lunch with Mellon???""""

    You do mean witness tampering?
    Go John...... kick their rear end

  • Tax Man Jun 1, 9:39 a.m.

    Any plea deal should require permanent loss of his law license, at least a year in prison, paying for the entire investigation, and not allowed to run for office ever again. That should be the minimum - if it goes to trial, then go for the throat - ask for the max. This man is a real crook and needs to be taken down big time. Only the feds can do it as NC politics think he is their hero!

  • chamdingo May 31, 7:03 p.m.

    Let's try this again. Edwards is an unfortunate soul who drank his own ambition-flavored koolaide, got drunk on it, and is now paying the price he deserves for his deeds.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman May 31, 6:25 p.m.

    I thought they said earlier this was being delayed.

    Boy, blink your eyes for a second and...

  • oleguy May 31, 5:26 p.m.

    What a waste of time and money, Hes a crook and will get off with nothing,,,,Waste of money, When we we the people learn we are not the same as politicans, dont get treated the same,, BUT we pay for all this

  • Boob Ethridge May 31, 5:12 p.m.

    "Beach" Apparently you don't get my sense of humor. Read my name and look at my profile and you will get it, I hope. Johnny is not a friend.

  • fireman1234 May 31, 5:07 p.m.

    Walk away scott free!!! Just like all politicians.

  • workingforthosethatwont May 31, 4:15 p.m.

    If I were a federal prosecutor, and I learned through the media or other sources that a target with whom we're trying to work out a deal is meeting with a key witness, I would be very concerned that some improper influence was going on," Shanahan said.

    Given his legal background and sneaky moves, I think it would be a safe bet that some improper influence is going on.

  • weasleyes May 31, 4:06 p.m.

    Delayed? Well, just KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER! You and I would be in prison by now. BTW: I know some of the folks in Robbins, NC when he supposedly was a "mill worker." They were TRULY "mill workers" at the same time, and never saw John! They knew him and his daddy, but never saw him working in the mill! What a fake!

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