Edwards Case Ends in Mistrial

Photograph by Gerry Broome/AP Photo

nh heeJohn Edwards arrives outside federal court in Greensboro, N.C.

Updated at 5:30 pm EDT

The jury hearing the federal government’s case against John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic nominee for vice president, has found him not guilty on one count.

And with the jury deadlocked today on five other counts, the judge has declared a mistrial.

That’s not the end of this story.

Edwards, speaking on the courthouse steps in Greensboro, North Carolina, after the mistrial, fought back tears as he spoke of a 4-year-old daughter conceived with his mistress while seeking the 2008 presidential nomination.

After being found not guilty on one count of campaign fraud, Edward also said he believes he did nothing illegal, but that he did an “awful, awful lot” that was wrong and that he alone is responsible for his sins.

Edwards served as  Senator John Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket in 2004.

As the next campaign cycle got underway, Edwards was accused of violating federal campaign finance laws in allowing rich benefactors to cover the personal expenses of a mistress whom he attempted to conceal as he started his own second bid for the party’s presidential nomination in 2008.

The mistress, Rielle Hunter, bore Edwards’ child.

In the trial on charges that Edwards accepted $925,000 to cover up the affair and save his campaign, jurors learned of not only $700,000 in so-called “Bunny Money” that Edwards accepted from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, but also $28,000 that Edwards supporter Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer now deceased, spent on a BMW automobile for Hunter, who maintained a costly lifestyle in hiding.

Andrew Young, a former Edwards campaign aide and father of three who initially agreed to claim Hunter’s child as his own,  testified about accepting more than $900,000 from two wealthy donors to cover Hunter’s expenses.

The mistrial is only one factor going forward for Edwards,  a son of mill-workers who was elected to the Senate at age 45 and made millions as a trial lawyer in North Carolina. Prosecutors could seek a new trial.

The other factor is political.

“I don’t think there’s much likelihood of a political  redemption,” the University of North Carolina’s J.F. “Ferrel” Guillory said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“Part of this is the old story that the cover-up, in some ways, is worse than the crime,” said Guillory,  director of the university’s Program on Public Life. “I think people understand that if you’re going to have an affair you’re going to try to cover it up. That’s the nature of the enterprise. Where is the line with Edwards? There was so much lying.”

 

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