Local Politics

Feds order Edwards to repay $2.2M

Posted July 21, 2011 11:24 a.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2011 6:18 p.m. EDT

— The Federal Election Commission on Thursday ordered the campaign of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards to pay the government more than $2.2 million that it shouldn't have received.

A recent FEC audit determined that the Edwards campaign received $2.1 million in matching funds for which it wasn't eligible. Also, the campaign had $267,000 in "stale dated checks," which are refund checks that donors never cashed after contributing more than the legal limit, according to the audit.

The FEC lowered the amount of stale checks to $141,000 in its final ruling.

The campaign finance audit also accused the Edwards campaign of misstating its cash on hand and noted that the campaign failed to itemize $4.2 million in loan repayments.

Patricia Fiori, a lawyer representing the campaign, issued a statement Thursday evening to point out that the decision is based on accounting errors and not improper spending or a violation of any law.

The campaign has 60 days from when the final ruling is entered next month to ask for an administrative review or 90 days to pay the bill, officials said. Fiori said the campaign plans to seek a review.

A federal grand jury last month indicted Edwards on six felony charges related to money that was used to cover up his affair and child with Rielle Hunter, a videographer who chronicled his 2008 presidential campaign.

Federal prosecutors say Edwards accepted $900,000 in contributions from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Texas banker Fred Barron – far above the legal limit – and filed false campaign finance reports to hide the donations.

Edwards has maintained that the contributions were gifts and didn't need to be reported. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to go to trial in October.

Fiori said that the campaign hasn't paid any money toward Edwards' defense in the criminal case.