Edwards' campaign finance chairman paid mistress
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2012
GREENSBORO (AP) — Records introduced today at John Edwards’ corruption trial show his campaign finance chairman paid the candidate’s mistress a $9,000 monthly cash allowance, on top of other living and travel expenses.
Wealthy Texas lawyer Fred Baron is one of two political supporters who combined gave nearly $1 million to help hide Edwards’ pregnant mistress Rielle Hunter as the politician sought the White House in 2008. Evidence introduced at the trial showed Baron, who died in 2008, was making regular deposits into Hunter’s checking account, the sum totaling $74,000.
Money from the wealthy donors was also used for private jets, stays at luxury resorts and a $20,000-a-month California rental mansion.
Edwards’ oldest daughter, Cate, could take the stand as early as this afternoon. Two weeks ago, she dramatically ran out of the courtroom in tears during testimony about her cancer-stricken mother confronting her father about his affair with Hunter.
It’s not clear how her testimony could help her father’s defense.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to campaign finance violations stemming from the money used to support his mistress. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
His attorneys have said that Edwards did not know about the money from Baron and Mellon — and that even if he did, the cash was not a campaign contribution because it was intended to hide Hunter from Edwards’ wife, not the public.
Earlier today, Edwards’ former lawyer Wade Smith testified about conversations he had with Alex D. Forger, an attorney for wealthy heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. Forger had earlier testified for prosecutors, saying he told Smith that Edwards acknowledged some of the “Bunny Money” had been given for his benefit.
Smith said Forger misunderstood the conversation they had.
“I would not ever quote my client to someone else,” Smith testified, saying that would violate attorney-client privileged.
On Monday, Edwards’ attorneys began his defense by attempting to shift the focus away from the sex scandal to the technical issue of whether Edwards’ alleged behavior violated campaign finance laws.
Defense attorneys have not yet indicated if they will call Hunter or Edwards to testify.
Before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, Edwards made a fortune as a personal injury lawyer renowned for his ability to sway jurors. But his testimony would expose himself to a likely withering cross-examination about his past lies and personal failings.