Thought you’d (thankfully) heard the last of John Edwards? Think again: a federal grand jury probe is gathering evidence to determine whether Edwards broke campaign finance laws. According to the AP, which extensively reported on the matter, the investigation is focused on two questions: whether the funds that supported (and hid) Edwards’s then-pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, should be considered campaign funds, and whether some groups connected to Edwards acted illegally.
The argument for considering the funds that helped enable Hunter to stay in hiding is that if her relationship with Edwards had become known, it almost certainly would have negatively impacted his presidential campaign. The funds used to support Hunter appear to have been neither fully disclosed nor limited to the amounts allowed by law to be given to campaigns.
On the second front, there’s a question of whether at least three different groups with some affiliation to Edwards always acted in accordance with the law. One 527 group, Alliance for a New America, paid $3.3 million to the private company Alliance for a New America LLC. The 527 reported that the amount was paid to cover consulting services. Conveniently, the AFNA LLC, unlike the 527, does not have to disclose its finances. Notre Dame law professor Lloyd Mayer told the AP that it wasn’t clear if this transfer was illegal, but it certainly violated “the spirit of the law.”
The New American Optimists (yes, that’s the real name) and the One America Committee, which are both Edwards PACs, are also being looked at, as is the Center for Promise and Opportunity, a non-profit launched by Edwards. OAC and CPO jointly paid Hunter’s video company about $200,000 for web videos.
For all the nitty-gritty details, the entire AP story is well worth reading.