Rielle Hunter Paid Off by Edwards PAC?
John Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, was paid $14,000 from his campaign PAC, the AP’s Pete Yost and David Scott report.
Fred Baron, Edwards’ national finance chairman and a wealthy Dallas-based trial attorney, has acknowledged he quietly began sending money to Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ mistress, to resettle in California, along with the family of Andrew Young. Young is the campaign aide who has said he is the father of Hunter’s daughter, born after her affair with Edwards.
Meanwhile, an earlier payment of $14,000 to Edwards’ mistress from the candidate’s political action committee was exchanged for 100 hours of unused videotape she shot producing short Web movies for which she already had been paid $100,000, an Edwards associate told the AP. Neither Edwards’ advisers or this associate would discuss the purpose of the payment on the record.
That payment from Edwards’ OneAmerica political action committee, which came after Hunter stopped working for it, came in April 2007, months before Baron quietly began sending money himself to Hunter. Baron has described his payments to Hunter as a private transaction.
Baron’s payments could present legal problems, said Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell, who specializes in campaign finance law and who represents Republican candidates and conservative groups. She said all payments to anyone involved in Edwards’ presidential campaigns — including Hunter and Young — should have been fully disclosed under U.S. campaign finance laws. “That would undermine the purpose of the payments, which was to avoid public disclosure of the affair,” Mitchell said. “The idea that Edwards’ finance chairman can independently hand over substantial sums of money to two campaign workers at a time when Edwards is a candidate and to argue that that is not related to his campaign is a bit preposterous.”
Legal experts said it was important for Edwards to demonstrate the PAC wasn’t paying Hunter merely to keep her quiet about the affair. “One thing that’s possible is that she was still owed money from what she’d done before for the political action committee, but obviously there are less charitable explanations,” said Richard Hasen, a professor specializing in campaign finance law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Less charitable, indeed.
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