A federal criminal investigation into the possible misappropriation of campaign funds by former North Carolina Senator and 2004 Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards is nearing its conclusion. The investigation seeks to prove Mr. Edwards illegally gave campaign funds to an ex-lover to keep her quiet about their affair during his 2008 bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
This investigation into former Senator Edwards’ allegedly fraudulent behavior is finally coming to a head after having been in progress for nearly two years. Thus far, the investigation into campaign records has revealed his lover was paid nearly $1 million for the purported purpose of producing videos for the candidate’s campaign. Investigators are trying to create a link between these payments and the fact that the woman was kept completely sheltered from public scrutiny during the 2008 nomination bid, as she was pregnant with what was later revealed to be Mr. Edwards’ child at the time.
Paying to keep an ex-lover and baby momma quiet during a campaign is far from a crime in North Carolina if the payments come from a personal funds. In order to have a fraud case worthy of trial, investigators will need to amass sufficient evidence to convince a court that funds donated to the candidate’s campaign committee were used by former Senator Edwards for the purely personal purpose of keeping the expectant mother quiet. They will have to find out what instrumental contributors to the campaign were led to believe. Were their donations solicited to fund the campaign or were they under the impression they were donating simply to “support” former North Carolina Senator John Edwards? If contributors believed they were funding the campaign and not that they were donating cash to the candidate to be used at his own discretion, it’s quite possible fraud charges may be filed.
It appears we will find out soon whether federal investigators will choose to take the case to trial. They have already taken the deposition of one of the candidate’s two key campaign contributors – which is extremely unorthodox prior to a defendant’s indictment in a federal trial – as the woman is 100 years old and may not make it through what is sure to be a lengthy trial. The other key contributor died in the fall of 2008, though his widow has reportedly already testified on the matter before a federal grand jury.
Source: Oxford University Press blog “Will John Edwards be indicted?” by Peter J. Henning, 3/22/11