Local Politics

Ex-aide: Edwards fathered mistress' child

Posted September 19, 2009 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2009 6:32 a.m. EDT

— A man who once claimed to have fathered the child of John Edwards' mistress says in a book proposal that the former presidential candidate is the real father and that Edwards worked with his campaign finance chairman to hide that secret, according to a New York Times article published online Saturday.

WRAL News reported last month that its sources have said Edwards' public admission could come after the criminal investigation into the use of his campaign funds is over.

The New York Times said the book proposal by former Edwards aide Andrew Young states he helped facilitate the affair between Edwards and Rielle Hunter. According to the newspaper, Young wrote that Edwards once told Hunter they would wed after Edwards' wife, who has cancer, died.

Edwards told Hunter that the ceremony would be held on a rooftop in New York and the Dave Matthews Bands would play, the newspaper said, citing its examination of the book proposal.

St. Martin's Press has said that Young signed a book deal with the publisher in June and it involved a strict confidentiality agreement.

Edwards has said the affair with Hunter ended in 2006. That year, Edwards' political action committee paid Hunter's video production firm $100,000 for work. Then the committee paid another $14,086 on April 1, 2007. The Edwards camp has said the latter payment from the PAC was exchanged for 100 hours of unused videotape Hunter shot.

The same day, the Edwards presidential campaign had injected $14,034.61 into the PAC for a "furniture purchase," according to federal election records.

Edwards, a U.S. senator representing North Carolina from 1998 until his vice presidential bid in 2004, acknowledged in May that federal investigators are looking into how he used campaign funds. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh has declined to confirm or deny an investigation.

Edwards adamantly denied during an interview last summer that he had fathered a child with Hunter, and he welcomed a paternity test. His wife, Elizabeth, has said she doesn't know if her husband is the father.

Young said in 2007 he was the child's father. Hunter said around the same time that Young was the father, and the birth certificate does not list a father's name.

Michael Critchley, Hunter's attorney, declined to comment Saturday. A lawyer for Young did not immediately return messages The Associated Press left at his office Saturday.

Edwards' attorney, Wade Smith, told WRAL on Aug. 15 that "no statement (about paternity) is planned at the moment."

Young hasn't spoken publicly since saying he was the father of Frances Quinn Hunter, who is 19 months old, in 2007 and has repeatedly ignored reporter requests for interviews.

Young got his last campaign paycheck in the middle of November, a month before he and Hunter publicly declared through attorneys that he was the father. Fred Baron, who was Edwards' national finance chairman and a wealthy Dallas-based trial attorney, said last year he quietly sent money to Hunter and to Young's family to resettle in California.

Baron, who died following complications from cancer a few months after Edwards acknowledged the affair, said he provided the money on his own, to "help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to move forward on their own."

“The problem for Edwards is that on one hand, his national finance chairman, trial lawyer Fred Baron, who desperately wanted John Edwards to either become president or attorney general, was one of the two parties making these payments,” Joe Sinsheimer, a Democratic political consultant, told WRAL.

Sinsheimer, who has worked on political corruption cases in the past, said he does not understand why Edwards has not spoken publicly about these allegations.

“This is yet another opportunity that went by for John Edwards to tell the truth. I think that is what is most disappointing,” Sinsheimer said.

The New York Times said the book proposal states Edwards knew from the start that he was the father of the child and expended considerable effort trying to conceal that. The proposal says Edwards pleaded with Young to claim paternity and asked Baron to check whether a doctor would fake the results of a paternity test.