John Edwards owes $2.3M to the feds, FEC says

KEENE, NH - JANUARY 6: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC) waits to speak at a campaign event at Keene State University January 6, 2008 in Keene, New Hampshire. Candidates have converged on New Hampshire ahead of the state's Tuesday January 8 primary. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
Eric Thayer/Getty Images
John Edwards
Eric Thayer/Getty Images

In the latest setback for the former Democratic presidential contender, the Federal Election Commission ruled today that John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign owes the federal government $2.3 million.

The FEC said it agreed with an audit that showed the John Edwards for President Committee should pay back the government $2.1 million in matching funds it wasn't entitled to receive. Presidential candidates can apply to receive "matching funds" from the government, which are financed by $3 donations taxpayers make on their tax forms.

The rest of the money owed, the FEC said, was for "stale-dated checks," the agency's term for checks sent back to donors but never cashed. The FEC most of those funds were refunds to donors for earlier donations intended strictly for general election use. FEC rules require any money not collected by the original donor must be sent to the government.

Now that they've agreed with the audit, the FEC will vote to officially approve the final audit report. Once that happens, the Edwards campaign will have 90 days to pay or 60 days to request a review of the decision.

Last month, in an unrelated case, Edwards was indicted on six felony charges for allegedly using more than $900,000 in campaign contributions to keep his pregnant mistress out of sight during his 2008 run for president.