John Edwards’ $400 Haircut Led to Indictment

By now, everyone knows that John Edwards was indicted on campaign finance law violations stemming from the cover-up of the Rielle Hunter love child scandal. Most, too, recall the brouhaha over Edwards’ $400 haircuts. As it turns out, they’re at least tangentially related.

TPM’s Ryan Reilly explains:

It was April 2007 and Bunny Mellon, a then 96-year-old wealthy supporter of former Sen. John Edwards, was angry over how the media was over-blowing the news that the North Carolina Democrat got a $400 haircut.

According to the criminal indictment returned on Friday, she then wrote a note to Andrew Young, the long-time assistant to Edwards who was working on his Presidential campaign.

“The timing of your telephone call on Friday was ‘witchy.’ I was sitting alone in a grim mood —furious that the press attacked Senator Edwards on the price of a haircut,” Mellon allegedly wrote in a note to an Edwards aide.

“But it inspired me — from now on all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for his campaign — please send the bills to me,” Mellon continued. “It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions.”

According to the indictment, when Edwards found out the next month that his mistress Rielle Hunter was carrying his child and asked that long-time aide to help identifying donors who could offer their support, Young knew just the right person.

Mellon isn’t named in the 19-page indictment, but information that has emerged about her help of Edwards makes her identifiable as “Person C.” The indictment identifies Young as “Person A” and Hunter as “Person B.”

According to the indictment, she had already contributed the maximum allowable amount to Edwards, so she started cutting checks to a friend, falsely listing items of furniture on the memo lines: “chairs,” “antique Charleston table,” and “book case.” The friend forwarded the checks to Person A, who used the money to pay for rent, furniture, car, living expenses medical visits and prenatal care for Hunter.

Rather blatant fraud. Presumably, they told Mellon the truth as to how they were spending the money. It would be hard  to convince her it was all for barbering services.

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James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. It’s not been mentioned yet but I’ve got t assume that Young and Mellon have some kind of immunity agreement with the US Attorney for their testimony because one or both of them could just as easily be subject to indictment.

    I hadn’t had a chance to read through the indictment yet, but this just makes the whole thing look much worse for Edwards.


  2. Steve Verdon says:

    We need a Nelson laugh image, IMO.


  3. Southern Hoosier says:

    What is it with Democrats when it come to haircuts and women?

    Haircut Grounded Clinton While the Price Took Off
    Published: May 21, 1993

    Correction Appended

    It may have been the most expensive haircut in history.

    Two of Los Angeles International Airport’s four runways were shut down for nearly an hour on Tuesday, some incoming flights were delayed and Air Force One sat on the tarmac with engines running — all so that President Clinton’s Beverly Hills hairstylist, Chistophe, could come aboard and give Mr. Clinton a high-price trim before he took off for Washington.


  4. TG Chicago says:

    I’d say your headline is a bit hyperbolic. The phrase you used in the post — “tangentially related” — seems far more apt.


  5. Nightrider says:

    It’s not been mentioned yet but I’ve got to assume that Young and Mellon have some kind of immunity agreement with the US Attorney for their testimony because one or both of them could just as easily be subject to indictment.

    Young is dead. Mellon is 100 years old.