Report: Grand jury investigating Edwards over mistress

A federal grand jury is reportedly looking in to whether the former senator violated campaign finance laws with payments to Rielle Hunter.

Published April 3, 2009 11:00PM (EDT)

A federal grand jury is reportedly investigating whether former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., violated campaign finance laws by making payments to his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

The National Enquirer was the first to report the story, which has since been picked up by outlets in North Carolina, Edwards' home and the reported location of the grand jury. The tabloid is often thought of as untrustworthy, but it has a solid record on these types of stories, and it consistently led other media outlets in reporting Edwards' affair.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, but local news sources are reporting that one did convene on Wednesday. The U.S. attorney, George Holding, said he wouldn't "confirm or deny any investigation." Wade Smith, a prominent local defense attorney and Edwards mentor, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, declined to say whether he was representing the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee -- but his quote did seem to indicate that something might be going on. "I'm at a place where I cannot make any comment to confirm or deny," Smith said. "I can't say anything. It's possible, at some later point, I can." (Defense attorneys are not bound by grand jury secrecy rules the way prosecutors are.)

Edwards has denied making any payments to Hunter or to Andrew Young, a former aide who claims to be the father of Hunter's child. Fred Baron, who chaired Edwards' finance committee for his 2004 and 2008 presidential runs, did say that -- without Edwards' knowledge -- he personally paid for Young and Hunter to move to California to escape media attention. Baron died last year.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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