A federal grand jury indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards Friday over allegations that he spent $925,000 in campaign donations to cover up his extramarital affair as he was running for the White House in 2008.
Edwards has been charged with six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. Edwards will be arraigned in a federal court in Winston-Salem, N.C. later Friday.
“John Edwards will tell the court he is innocent of all charges, and will plead not guilty,” Edwards’ lawyer, Gregory Craig, said in a statement. “He did not break the law and will mount a vigorous defense.”
The indictment claims that the payments Edwards’ mistress and campaign videographer Rielle Hunter received from his two friends, Rachel Mellon and Fred Baron, were campaign contributions intended to keep her and their baby in hiding during the 2008 presidential election.
“Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the 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.
“As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement.
But the Edwards’ camp argues the payments were not campaign contributions as defined by campaign finance laws.
“I believe that the theory on which the government intends to base its prosecution is without precedent in federal election law, and that the Federal Election Commission would not support a finding that the conduct at issue constituted a civil violation much less warranted a criminal prosecution,” said former Federal Election Commission Chairman Scott Thomas, who is serving as an expert witness for Edwards’ legal team.
The indictment and an arrest warrant were filed in Greensboro, N.C., which is in the district where his campaign was headquartered.
Negotiations between Edwards’ attorneys and federal prosecutors to settle on a charge to which Edwards was willing to plead guilty continued through Thursday, but proved fruitless, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. Prosecutors had insisted on a plea to a felony, which would endanger his ability to keep his license to practice law.
The criminal charges filed Friday came after a two-year federal investigation. The prosecution’s star witness is Edwards’ former aide, Andrew Young, who claimed paternity of Hunter’s child back in 2007 but later came clean in a tell-all book.
I don’t know if this is necessarily true or not but, if the Attorney General waited to indict Edwards after his wife Elizabeth passed away, then God Bless them for showing the compassion toward her.
This guy seemed like a charismatic family oriented guy, wanting to do good things for us, make our life better. His ideas on change would make this country a better place. Guess it is a good thing he was not elected president….oh wait, didn’t we elect someone just like that???
And maybe what he’s been doing to doctors, and insurance companies all these years is gonna happen to him on his honeymoon night in the slammer.
After this guys how about, we go after the Democrats that allowed the Financial Meltdown to occur and awarded those responsible with large stimulus funds. Oh, wait Eric Holder is the Attorney General, maybe have to wait a couple of years on that idea.