John Edwards, former strong candidate for the presidential nomination in 2008 along with Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, and John Kerry’s vice-presidential running mate in 2004, has completed one of the most impressive falls in US politics of the last decade.
He has been accused of inappropriately spending $927,000 (£564,000) to keep his girlfriend Rielle Hunter and their baby in hiding during the election campaign. He denied charges of conspiracy, lying and illegal campaign contributions.
Edwards fought his 2008 campaign from a vastly anti-poverty stance, presenting himself as a family man who cared deeply for his wife, Elizabeth, who had cancer. Knowing that the revelation of both his affair with Hunter and her additional pregnancy would have totally annihilated his chances of gaining the presidential vote, he improperly spent thousands on keeping them away from the public eye. Edwards met Hunter in a New York bar in 2006.
The charges state that “Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and pregnancy would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards’ presentation of himself as family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy.”
According to the indictment, Edwards also asked campaign member of staff Andrew Young to falsely lay claim that Hunter’s child was his own.
Cheques to Edwards by one of the contributors have been shown to be dishonestly listed as being for an antique Charleston table, chairs and a bookcase.
The court case is resultant of a two-year grand jury investigation based in Raleigh, North Carolina, into the illegal use of over $40m raised by Edwards during the campaign.
Edwards, though admitting in 2008 to having had the affair, remained resolute that he was not the father of the child until 2009. His wife Elizabeth died last year.
Due to the complicated election laws in the US, it is possible that Edwards may also escape being sentenced to a stint in jail.