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FEC: John Edwards must pay back $2.3 million in campaign funds

July 21, 2011|By Kim Geiger
(Gerry Broome / Associated…)

John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign must repay $2.3 million in federal campaign funds, the Federal Election Commission ruled Thursday.

The funds had been paid to Edwards' campaign committee by the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which matches funds privately raised by a campaign. An FEC audit found that the Edwards campaign received more than it should have because of accounting errors.

Such audits are required as part of the matching funds program, and it is not uncommon for campaign committees to be required to pay back some portion of the funds that were received.

“It’s not at all unusual for a campaign to have a discrepancy,” Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said at the Thursday hearing. “It’s just a math problem, and that’s how the math turned out.”

Edwards, who dropped out of the race Jan. 30, 2008, pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges that he accepted nearly $1 million from two supporters to hide his pregnant mistress while he was seeking the nomination.  A criminal trial is tentatively set to begin in October.

The FEC proceeding was not related to the criminal case. According to the agency's records, Edwards' presidential campaign had $2.6 million in cash at the end of June.

The Edwards campaign took in $57 million, including $7.4 million in matching funds and $39.6 million in contributions from individuals. By comparison, Joe Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign took in nearly $13 million, including about $860,000 in matching funds. Biden was ordered to repay about $220,000 to the treasury. 

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