The investigation into John Edwards’ alleged campaign-finance improprieties and their connection to his then-mistress, Rielle Hunter, appears to be nearing its end, with an indictment possible in coming days.
Both ABC and CNN are reporting that the Justice Department has been given the go-ahead to prosecute the 2008 presidential candidate over payments his campaign and supporters allegedly made to Hunter during her affair with Edwards.
Edwards, according to reports, must now decide whether to try and work out a plea deal or fight the charges in court.
For Edwards, 57, the former 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee and once a rising star in his party, an indictment would represent just the latest sordid chapter in a titanic fall from grace. Hunter, who worked as a videographer on the campaign, eventually gave birth to Edwards’ daughter, although Edwards maintained for almost two years that he was not the father.
His marriage to the late Elizabeth Edwards collapsed as a result.
A former campaign aide, Andrew Young, later wrote in a tell-all book that he had been instructed to be part of a cover-up of Edward’ paternity during the 2008 race, going so far as to claim that he, not Edwards, was the child’s father. Young also wrote that a wealthy supporter, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, gave Edwards’ campaign $700,000 that Edwards and Young used to support Hunter.
Tabloid reports linked Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, to Hunter in late 2007, in advance of the Iowa caucuses, but initially they seem to do little harm. He finished second in Iowa, behind Barack Obama, and came in third in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Edwards ended his campaign in late January 2008, eventually throwing his support to Obama.
He admitted the affair with Hunter in September of that year, but it wasn’t until January 2010 that Edwards conceded that he was the father of Hunter’s daughter. His separation from Elizabeth was announced soon after. She died of complications from breast cancer in December 2010.
A North Carolina grand jury has been investigating Edwards’ campaign and its involvement with Hunter since 2009.