Everything you need to know about John Edwards
May 31st, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Everything you need to know about John Edwards

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008, and Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004. He is accused of six counts stemming from allegations that he accepted illegal campaign contributions, falsified documents and conspired to receive and conceal the contributions. The maximum sentence if convicted on all six counts would be 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Photos: John Edwards' career

Major dates

* December 27, 2006: John Edwards announces at an event in New Orleans that he is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. He suspends his campaign on January 30, 2008.

* June 3, 2011: Edwards is indicted on six counts including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

Personal information

* Birth date: June 10, 1953

* Birth place: Seneca, South Carolina

* Birth name: Johnny Reid Edwards

* Parents: Wallace, a textile mill worker, and Catherine "Bobbie" Edwards

* Marriage: Elizabeth (Anania) Edwards (July 30, 1977 – December 7, 2010, her death)

* Children with Rielle Hunter: Frances Quinn Hunter, February 27, 2008

* Children with Elizabeth Edwards: Jack, 2000; Emma Claire, April 24, 1998; Cate, 1982; Wade, 1979 – 1996

* Education: North Carolina State University, B.S., 1974 (with honors)

* University of North Carolina, J.D, 1977 (with honors)

* Religion: Methodist

Other Facts:

* Edwards had no previous political experience before winning the 1998 Senate election.

* He was the first person in his family to attend college.

* When a US Senator, he introduced legislation on the following issues:


Health Care

Homeland Security

Privacy Protection


Senior Citizens

Strengthening Criminal Justice System and Courts


Economic growth

* As a presidential candidate in the 2008 election, Edwards repeatedly lied about an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a documentary filmmaker. He admits the affair to ABC News on August 8, 2008.


* 1981 - Joins the Wade Smith Law Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.

* 1993 - Starts his own law firm with partner David Kirby, concentrating on personal injury law.

* 1996 - Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Lawyers Weekly.

* 1998 - Receives 51.2% of the vote in general election to Republican Lauch Faircloth's (incumbent) 47% to win seat in the U.S. Senate.

* January 3, 1999 - Is sworn in as senator.

* June 29, 2001 - Edwards, along with Sen. John McCain, acts as chief sponsor of the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act.

* January 2, 2003 - Announces the formation of an presidential campaign exploratory committee with the FEC.

* September 16, 2003 - Formally announces his candidacy for president, in the town where he grew up, Robbins, NC.

* October 14, 2003 - Announces that he will not vote for the $87 billion Iraq aid package.

* January 19, 2004 - Takes 2nd place in the Iowa caucuses with 32% of the vote.

* February 3, 2004 Wins the South Carolina Primary with 45% of the votes, 2nd in Oklahoma and Missouri.

* March 3, 2004 - Announces that he's dropping out of the race.

* July 6, 2004 - John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate, names Edwards as his vice presidential running mate.

* November 3, 2004 - Ends vice presidential candidacy when Sen. John Kerry calls President Bush to concede the White House race, one day after the election.

* January 3, 2005 - Leaves the Senate when his term expires.

* February, 2005 - Becomes the Director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

* December 27, 2006 - John Edwards announces at an event in New Orleans that he is running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

* March 22, 2007 – Announces that his wife Elizabeth's cancer has returned, but he is continuing with his presidential campaign.

* January 30, 2008 – Edwards announces that he's suspending his race for the Democratic nomination. He declines to endorse either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

* February 27, 2008 – Frances Quinn Hunter is born. No father is listed on the birth certificate.

* May 14, 2008 – Edwards endorses Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.

* August 8, 2008 – In an interview with Nightline, Edwards admits to an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a woman hired to make documentary videos for his campaign. He denies he is the father of her young daughter, due to the timing of the affair, though he hasn't taken a paternity test.

* February 2009 – The Justice Department opens an investigation into Edwards's 2008 campaign finances.

* May 2009 – Elizabeth Edwards publishes a memoir, Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities. She addresses the affair saying "I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from this woman, from his act."

* August 6, 2009 – Rielle Hunter testifies in front of a grand jury investigating Edwards' campaign finances.

* January 21, 2010 – Admits he fathered a daughter, Quinn, with Rielle Hunter and has been providing financial support for her for the last year.

* January 27, 2010 – Separates from wife of more than 32 years.

* January 30, 2010 – The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down, by his former aide, Andrew A. Young, is published. Young claims campaign donation money from socialite Bunny Mellon was used to pay for Rielle Hunter's pregnancy expenses.

* December 2010 – A federal investigation into Edwards campaign finances includes grand jury appearances by Bunny Mellon's family. Mellon gave various checks totaling $700,000 to Edwards. The question is whether the money was a gift or should it have been declared campaign contributions. Her advanced age, 100, makes it unlikely Mellon herself will appear before the grand jury.

* December 7, 2010 – Elizabeth Edwards dies of cancer.

* February 2011 – Bunny Mellon testifies on camera in the Edwards investigation. Her age makes it a possibility she would not be available in the event of a trial.

* February 8, 2011 – Edwards gives a deposition in the lawsuit of Rielle Hunter against Andrew Young. Hunter is suing Young to reclaim materials that she says belong to her, including an alleged sex tape that involves Edwards.

* April 29, 2011 – A North Carolina judge rules that Edwards must testify more in the lawsuit of Rielle Hunter against Andrew Young.

* June 3, 2011 – Edwards is indicted on six counts including conspiracy, issuing false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws. Edwards pleads not guilty. "There's no question I've done wrong ... but I did not break the law."

* July 21, 2011 – The Federal Election Commission rules that Edwards must pay back $2.3 million to the U.S. Treasury. The money exceeds the matching funds from his 2008 campaign.

* August 24, 2011 – Edwards asks the court to delay his trial, which is scheduled to begin in October.

* December 22, 2011 – Edwards' attorneys ask to delay his criminal trial, saying Edwards has an unspecified medical issue.

* January 14, 2012 – Due to a critical heart condition Edwards' trial is postponed.

* April 12, 2012 – Jury selection begins in Edwards' trial.

* April 23, 2012 – Testimony begins in the trial.

* May 10, 2012 – The prosecution's case ends. Rielle Hunter was not called as a witness.


Four Trials, with John Auchard, 2003

Real Solutions for America, a 60 page campaign booklet, 2003

Sources: Congressional Quarterly, Biography Resource Center, John Edwards home page (no longer active).

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Filed under: John Edwards
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    Let me share what I want to know about John Edwards. Absolutely nothing!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tj

    Why isn't this article only about one word in length – "Nothing".?????

    May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    Well marvelous, and i need to know all this WHY???

    May 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    VERICT: NOT GUILTY!!! Thank you jury! Congratulations Sen. John Edwards! America loves you! Justice has been served!Now go eat sh-it conservatives!!!

    May 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Northernstar

    It must have been a great campaign when it can receive $1 million and no one apparently knew about it and then forgot to report it to the election committee. Forget for a moment what it may or may not have been intended for; how can you misplace $1 million back at a time when individual contributions were limited to $2,500. $1 million was a lot of money to a campaign. Now we find out that Edwards' aid used $800,000 of the money to build his dream house. What a campaign !!

    May 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dixie Independent voter

    He's so slippery, Would have made a better used car salesman. Sorry, used car salesmen, to bring you down by adding Edwards as a member of your ranks.

    May 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • mh22

      He is the quintessential personal-injury trial lawyer, as sleazy and slippery as they come. I would trust a used car salesman in a polyester suit more than lawyers of Edwards' ilk. Yet these very lawyers control the Demiocrat party, and many Dems still love Edwards. As time tends to heal old wounds, and as he presumably still has plenty of money, I would not be shocked to see this sleazeball attempting a political comback in 5 – 10 years.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LInda Holder

    Regardless of his personal life, I don't feel that case should have ever gone to trial. I hope this is over and he can redeem the rest of his life with his children!

    May 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dazzle ©

    Sleeze and Slime, that's all we need to Know.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Knew he was a phony from day 1

    The Good Old Boys of the South came through for him as assumed would happen. However, this sets a really bad precedent for American politics, dirty, sordid politics that is and what our elected officials can and will get away with. Talking about his "precious daughter" he is still working it until the bitter end! Still as phony as he's ever been! The long & short of it is: bad deeds usually catch up with the offenders sooner or later. His time will come.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Education – Now they have lunch box inspectors that tell little kids mom packed an insufficient lunch, then force kids to eat "chicken nuggets".

    Health Care- I have private health care at work. So now I have to help foot the bill for ObamaCare? For some alchoholic or doper that doesn't want to work?

    Homeland Security- For whose homeand? Afghanistan? Mexico? Canada? Everywhere except America.

    Privacy Protection- The government reads all of my email. Listens to all my phone calls. And don't think for a minute they don't. Big Brother is now.

    Environment- Hundreds of Millions of dollars in slush money to companies like Solyndra. No hope of tax payers ever getting that money back.

    Senior Citizens- What? $255.00 in social security benifits, to fund an 8-$10,000 funeral.

    Strengthening Criminal Justice System and Courts- Stand your ground support so you can legally commit murder to anyone, anytime, anyplace?

    Military- Now there's a place people get "rear ended". The 4 year hitch now is 6 or 8. $16,000,000,000 spent. Blowing the federal budget for the next two years. Are they going to paddle home?

    Economic growth- This year...less than 2%. Totally unacceptable

    This list of Edwards should of been a line item VETO!!!

    May 31, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    In 2016, the democrats will still be blamming Bush for all of thier calamity!!!

    May 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Helen

    I do not have any respect and any sympathy to him!!! It is time to pay for all bad things he did to people who trusted him: his family, his team, his voters. Everyone can be mistaken, but also everyone should pay for their own mistakes! My heart is with his belated wife who he led through such a public humiliation! She was fighting such a terrible disease which finally took her life, and she had to deal with all that dirty stuff while fighting cancer!!! Shame on him! I do understand that at some point of time love between man and woman will disappear, more precisely passion , not love, and if you are a good person, there are many other ways how to solve the situation even before you start an affair (especially considering he was a public figure pretending to be a leader in the nearest future) Instead.. He has to take whatever he deserves!

    May 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DS

    Can prosecutors go after the folks with the sub prime mor scandal or wall street folks that bundled bad deals and sold the housing market down the toilet. How about banks that did much more to help the economic crisis???
    Why is not more being done on that note???? To many of those folks campaign contributors ?
    I know different set of crooks. But I sure would like to see the folks that helped bring about current crisis and those companies that took stimulus money, to create jobs, then declare bankruptcy spent on their c e o s bonuses get some heat

    June 1, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    His arrogance in continuing to run for President is what gets me. He really thought
    these matters were never going to surface. His own personal standards are so
    low. I am most happy he was never able to run for further public offices.

    June 4, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Church

    This never was a campaign contribution.
    Edwards told the old rich lady that he needed some “Hush Money” to pay off some broad he boinked, and Bunny Mellon gave it to him.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
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