John Edwards Personal Saga About To Make News Again


I was a strong supporter of John Edwards in 2007, and into the first portion of 2008.  I felt then, as now, that the issue of poverty in America, and the many issues that extend from that central concern are most worthy of a national conversation along with creative policy ideas to combat them.  So it was very troubling when the personal life of Edwards became a soap opera, and as a result his ability to effect change at any level of government was torn away.

Today more tawdry news and insight into the life of John Edwards, one who many placed hope in, was splashed (rightfully, I might add)  onto the front page of America’s newspaper, The New York Times.  Most troubling to me is the insight provided by Andrew Young, a former close political assistant to Edwards.  The coldness of the thinking about a wedding after the death of Mrs. Edwards is too harsh to think serious.  And yet the evidence at hand suggests it likely is true.

But a federal grand jury in nearby Raleigh is investigating whether any crimes were committed in connection with campaign laws in an effort to conceal his extramarital affair with a woman named Rielle Hunter. At the same time, Mr. Edwards is moving toward an abrupt reversal in his public posture; associates said in interviews that he is considering declaring that he is the father of Ms. Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter, something that he once flatly asserted in a television interview was not possible.

Perhaps the most outlandish, and totally indefensible position ever thrown up a politician is being considered by the Edwards legal team.

According to people familiar with the grand jury investigation, prosecutors are considering a complicated and novel legal issue: whether payments to a candidate’s mistress to ensure her silence (and thus maintain the candidate’s viability) should be considered campaign donations and thus whether they should be reported. When Mr. Edwards was running for president, and later when he still held out hope of a cabinet position in the Obama administration, two of his wealthy patrons, through a once-trusted Edwards aide, quietly provided Ms. Hunter with large financial benefits, including a new BMW and lodging, that were used to keep her out of public view.

Wade M. Smith, a Raleigh lawyer who represents Mr. Edwards, declined to comment on the paternity issue directly, but said in a statement that “there may be a statement on that subject at some point, but there is no timetable and we will see how we feel about it as events unfold.”

The notion that Mr. Edwards is the father has been reinforced by the account of Andrew Young, once a close aide to Mr. Edwards, who had signed an affidavit asserting that he was the father of Ms. Hunter’s child.

Mr. Young, who has since renounced that statement, has told publishers in a book proposal that Mr. Edwards knew all along that he was the child’s father. He said Mr. Edwards pleaded with him to accept responsibility falsely, saying that would reduce the story to one of an aide’s infidelity.

In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, Mr. Young says that he assisted the affair by setting up private meetings between Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter. He wrote that Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

What can one say or add to that as commentary?

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