The federal grand jury indictment handed down Friday against former North Carolina Senator John Edwards charges the two-time Democratic presidential candidate of four counts of illegal campaign contributions, conspiracy and making false statements in connection with a cover-up of his extramarital affair.
"Person A" appears to reference former staffer Andrew Young, who for a time claimed Edward's illegitimate child as his own; "Person B" is Rielle Hunter, a videographer covering the Edwards campaign with whom the candidate had an extramarital affair, and who gave birth to Edwards' child in February 2008; "Person C" would be heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a major donor to Edwards' campaign; and "Person D" would be Texas lawyer Fred Baron, who served as Edwards' campaign finance chairman.
"The purpose of the conspiracy was to protect and advance Edwards' candidacy for President of the United States by secretly obtaining and using hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from [Mellon] and [Baron], well in excess of the Election Act's limit, to conceal Edwards' extramarital affair with [Hunter] and [Hunter's] pregnancy with his child. 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 response to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy."
The indictment alleges that Edwards and his co-conspirators, working individually and in concert, solicited and accepted campaign contributions in excees of the $25,000 federal limits on individuals (approximately $725,000 from Mellon and $200,000 from Baron) and used the money to both facilitate and conceal Edwards' affair, paying for Hunter's living and medical expenses, travel and accommodations necessary to hide Hunter from the media and the public.
As such, the John Edwards for President Committee was led to file "false and misleading campaign finance reports" with the FEC, even after Edwards formally withdrew from the presidential race in January 2008.
The indictment quotes a note from Mellon that Young read to Edwards, in or around April 2007, in which she said she was "furious" about media reports over the price Edwards paid for a haircut that she characterized as "attacks."
"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," Mellon wrote.
The indictment reads that between June 7, 2007 and January 23, 2008, Mellon wrote seven checks in amounts varying from $10,000 to $200,000, which were deposited in an account overseen by Young. The checks listed such items as "chairs," "antique Charleston table" or "book case" in the memo line. The checks totaled $725,000.
In late 2007, when news broke about Edwards' affair and his child with Hunter, Edwards denied the relationship, and the married Young falsely claimed paternity of the child.
According to the indictment, between December 2007 and January 2008 Baron paid for travel and accommodations for Hunter, including chartered airfare from Raleigh, N.C., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from Florida to Aspen, Colo., and from Colorado to San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif. Hotel and house rental payments in California were also made.
The indictment also says in or around December 2007 Baron provided a cash payment of approximately $1,000. The envelope contained a note reading, "Old Chinese saying: use cash, not credit cards!"
The indictment also lists statements made in the media by Edwards claiming he was not involved with Hunter, was not the father of her child, and had not made any payments to or solicited funds for her.