Former presidential, vice presidential candidate John Edwards indicted
June 3rd, 2011
10:20 AM ET

Former presidential, vice presidential candidate John Edwards indicted

Former senator and 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted Friday on six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws.

Edwards is scheduled to appear in federal court in Winston Salem, North Carolina, at 2:30 p.m. ET, according to a Justice Department official.

Plea discussions had been ongoing between Edwards' defense lawyers and federal prosecutors, but no agreement was reached.  Edwards had not wanted to plead guilty to a felony because he could lose his law license, a source familiar with the inquiry previously told CNN.

A grand jury has been investigating that money given to support Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter by benefactors of Edwards should have been considered campaign donations - a contention Edwards' team has disputed.

Edwards had not wanted to plead guilty to a felony because he could lose his law license, a source familiar with the inquiry previously told CNN.

The case involves the financial aid given to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter. During their affair, Hunter became pregnant with Edwards' baby, though at first he denied he was the father.

Read the indictment (PDF)

While prosecutors believe the monetary help given to Hunter by two of Edwards' political backers should have been considered campaign donations, Edwards' attorneys disagree.

Edwards' attorney Greg Craig has said his client "has done wrong in his life - and he knows it better than anyone - but he did not break the law." He said the government's theory of the case "is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law."

The government is believed to be building its case that Edwards violated campaign finance law on an 11-year-old advisory opinion issued by the Federal Election Commission, which asserted that a gift to a candidate for federal office would be considered a campaign contribution, a source with knowledge of the inquiry told CNN this week.

The decision, dated June 14, 2000, is known as "Harvey." It's named after a man named Phillip Harvey who sought guidance from the FEC because he wanted to give money to someone who was preparing to run for federal office, but didn't want the money to be used for campaign purposes.

The opinion is important because Hunter received more than $1 million from two contributors - 100-year-old philanthropist Rachel "Bunny" Mellon of Virginia and attorney Fred Baron, who has since died.

Edwards' attorneys have said that the money was not and should not be considered political contributions. If it wasn't a political contribution, what was it? The most widely reported theory - which the Edwards team has publicly neither confirmed nor denied - is that the money was given to keep Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, from finding out about his mistress and child.

The source with knowledge of the inner workings of the case and other legal observers have noted that the advisory opinion is shaky ground to base a federal prosecution on because it is not a black-letter federal statute, and apparently has not been cited in any important case law, or as legal authority behind any important court decisions.

Federal prosecutors in North Carolina have declined to comment on the case because it is a matter relating to a grand jury.

Other experts have said the Justice Department would have a strong case in court if it could prove Edwards knew about the funds and what they were being used for – a contention he has denied.

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Filed under: John Edwards • Politics
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. buke56

    So what he was indicted. Any D.A.s office will tell you you can indict a ham sandwich. Indicting and proving are 2 different things. I give it a week. hey hows about that whole Lindsey Lohan thing?

    June 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jazzzz

    What he did is no big deal

    June 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzzz

    I eat sh!t

    June 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Engleberthumperdink

    OK JJ, you pull in over a grand per week. Now you're just a filthy maggot with good dough. Eat me.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JustMe

    Here go the fights. It's a dog fight all the way to the White House - bones and all. 'Guess this would eliminate him from the Prez election candidacy.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst''r

    Frankfurtly too i kkknow that he slept with sarah pp palin a few outings at least. so sew which party are you each from again?

    June 9, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. athena07

    Good... hope he goes to jail, spending our tax dollars on a HO!!!!!! Maggott~~~

    June 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anand

    This is wonderful! Articulate, enggiang and very informative. Your content seemed full for such a short amount of time, well paced, fluid and organized but not overwhelming for a beginner like me. You come across genuine and trustworthy this is encouraging and MOTIVATING!

    July 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
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