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John Edwards' Campaign Finance Trial Set To Begin

Benjamin Gottlieb |
April 22, 2012 | 8:18 p.m. PDT

Executive Editor

John Edwards (Photo by TechShowNetwork, obtained under Creative Commons' license).
John Edwards (Photo by TechShowNetwork, obtained under Creative Commons' license).
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards will stand trial before a federal jury on Monday for allegedly accepting nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions in 2008 to pay the expenses of his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Edwards is facing up to 30 years in prison and roughly $1.5 million in fines.

“The charges against John Edwards in this case flow from his knowing and willful violation of the federal campaign finance laws during his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president,’’ prosecutors said in court filings, according to the Los Angeles Times.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

Prosecutors contend that bills paid by two Edwards benefactors, Rachel “Bunny’’ Mellon, a banking heiress from Virginia, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer, actually were unreported campaign contributions designed to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer who gave birth to his daughter.


Justice Department prosecutors contend this is a straightforward case of broken campaign finance laws.

According to CNN, the case is not as clear cut as prosecutors contend. CNN cited experts stating that this type of case is "considered unprecedented in the arena of campaign finance," adding that numerous loopholes exist in current laws. 

More on Edwards' defense from CNN:

Edwards' defense is that the money he received from Mellon and Baron was for personal reasons, most importantly to protect his wife who was dying, and to protect his family. He contends that at no point throughout the ordeal did he ever think he was breaking the law.

The defense is also expected to characterize Edwards' case as "politically motivated," the New York Times reported.

More from the New York Times:

… It began under the tenure of George Holding, a Republican appointee of President George W. Bush who stayed on as a United States attorney under the Obama administration to bring the case to trial.

Mr. Holding had long been politically hostile to Mr. Edwards, the defense lawyers say, and hoped the case would help his political ambitions. Mr. Holding retired last year, a month after securing Mr. Edward’s indictments, and then announced he was running for Congress in 2012.

Opening arguments are scheduled for Monday and the trial is expected to last more than six weeks.



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