The government’s case against John Edwards paints a portrait of a deceptive politician who tapped wealthy donors to help cover missteps that would have undermined his run for the presidency.
“A centerpiece of Edwards’ candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man,” the indictment states.
But in fact, the 19-page indictment points out, Edwards was having an extra-marital affair, and Edwards’ supporters were funneling money outside the campaign, and away from government scrutiny, to keep the affair quiet.
The money included stays in swank hotels like one on the beach in San Diego and even a cash payment with a note that read, “Old Chinese saying: use cash, not credit cards!”
The indictment notes the limit for an individual to contribute to a presidential primary campaign at the time was $2,300. But Edwards sought to “falsify, conceal, and cover up by trick, scheme, and device a material fact [the pregnancy of Rielle Hunter]” which led the campaign “to create and file false and misleading campaign finance reports with the FEC.”
“The purpose of the conspiracy was … to conceal Edwards’ extramarital affair,” the indictment states.
“Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and pregnancy would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards’ presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy.”
The indictment notes that the monies included “approximately $725,000” from “Person C,” which was heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, and “approximately $200,000” from “Person D,” which was Texas lawyer Fred Baron.
The indictment includes a note from “Person C” (Mellon) that states, “The timing of your telephone call on Friday was ‘witchy.’ I was sitting alone in a grim mood – furious that the press attacked Sen. Edwards on the price of a haircut. But it inspired me – from now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for this campaign – please send the bills to me. … It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions.”
The intent of the note is important – in it, Mellon is saying she will pay bills that are necessary for Edwards’ campaign in a way that will avoid federal scrutiny.
The indictment goes on to say that Person C “falsely listed items of furniture on the memo lines of the checks (for example, “chairs,” “antique Charleston table,” “book case.”)
The indictment details some of the steps taken to conceal Hunter, including private flights and stays at swank places like the Loews Coronado Bay Hotel in San Diego for $10,111.28. Also paid for: a rental house in Santa Barbara, Calif., for $58,667.
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