Grand Jury Indicts Edwards
A federal Grand Jury indicted former Sen. John Edwards on multiple counts of campaign finance violations today. An order for his arrest was issued immediately. Edwards entered a not guilty plea before Magistrate Judge Patrick Auld at his 2:30 p.m. arraignment in federal court in Winston-Salem.
According to multiple reports Edwards came out of the federal courthouse to say he did something very wrong, but did not commit a crime.
“There’s no question that I’ve done wrong, and I take full responsibility for having done wrong,” he said. “And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others, but I did not break the law, and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law.”
Based on documents filed in the case with the federal court for the Middle District of the state in Greensboro, the grand jury said a centerpiece of his campaign for the presidency “was his public image as a devoted family man” and said “person A, a long-time assistant” handled personal tasks on his behalf.
That would be Andrew Young, a friend of Edwards for many years who accompanied the senator when he visited displaced poultry workers in the Town Hall in Robbins. The indictment refers to “person B” with whom “Edwards had an extramarital affair … which resulted in a pregnancy and the birth of a child.”
Edwards has admitted having a child with Rielle Hunter and attempting to keep the affair and the birth secret by lying about it.
A supporter identified only as “person C” is described as “a political supporter” and another “person D” as campaign finance chair “during the 2008 presidential campaign cycle” documents say. “C” is undoubtedly hundred-year-old Mellon banking fortune heir Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, while “D” would be Fred Baron, Edwards’ campaign finance chairman.
There are three basic allegations: that donations were accepted in excess of allowable limits, that Edwards made false statements, and that he conspired to hide these things.
He is charged with accepting contributions in excess of legal limits and conspiracy to hide facts causing his campaign to file false reports, according to documents filed in the case with the federal court for the Middle District of the state in Greensboro.
In addition to a limit on contributions of “anything of value” federal law bars payments for personal expenses of a candidate unless they would have been made irrespective of the candidacy.
The indictment alleges Edwards “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree with others, known and unknown, to (A) accept and receive, while a candidate for federal office, contributions … in excess of the limits of the Election Act … and (B) falsify, conceal, and cover up by trick, scheme, and device a material fact … by, among other things, causing the John Edwards for President Committee to create and file false and misleading campaign finance reports with the FEC.”
The six counts alleged in the indictment include four counts of accepting illegal campaign contributions, the conspiracy charge, and a charge involving false statements according to documents filed with the court.
“The purpose of the conspiracy was to protect and advance Edwards’ candidacy … by secretly obtaining and using hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions” so as to conceal his extramarital affair with Hunter, her pregnancy, and their daughter — though Hunter is not mentioned by name in the indictment.
A centerpiece of Edwards’ campaign for the presidency “was his public image as a devoted family man” documents say, and the candidate “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.”
According to the indictment, in or around May, 2007, Edwards discussed identifying individuals who could provide money to support the woman who had informed Edwards that she was pregnant with his child.
About that same time Mellon sent a note that Young read to Edwards saying in part, “The timing of your telephone call on Friday was ‘witchy.’ I was sitting alone in a grim mood — furious that the press attacked Senator Edwards on the price of a haircut. But it inspired me — from now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for his campaign — please send the bills to me .... It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions.”
That same month, documents say, that supporter – who had already contributed the maximum allowable legal amount – agreed “to provide additional money to Edwards to help him become President of the United States” and wrote personal checks, falsely listing items of furniture on the memo lines of the checks (for example, ‘chairs,’ ‘antique Charleston table,’ ‘book case’) making the checks payable to a friend.
The friend’s wife endorsed these checks in her maiden name and deposited them into bank accounts controlled by her and her husband. Then, as planned, the friend used those funds to pay for, among other things, Hunter’s rent, furniture, car, living expenses, medical visits and prenatal care.
National Enquirer (described in court documents as “a nationally circulated periodical”) published its Oct. 2007 article alleging that Edwards was involved in an extramarital affair. Shortly thereafter, in response to inquiries from the media, he “falsely denied having an affair” and asked “person A” to claim paternity, documents say – which Young did.
The indictment lists in detail checks received and items of expense like chartered airfare and hotel stays incurred as travel and living expenses along with dates and amounts.
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