GREENSBORO, N.C. — Records introduced Tuesday at John Edwards’ corruption trial show his campaign finance chairman paid the candidate’s mistress a $9,000 monthly cash allowance, on top of other living and travel expenses.
Wealthy Texas lawyer Fred Baron is one of two political supporters who combined gave about $1 million to help hide Edwards’ pregnant mistress Rielle Hunter as the politician sought the White House in 2008. Evidence introduced at the trial showed Baron was making regular deposits into Hunter’s checking account, the sum totaling $74,000.
The deposits began in June 2008 — several months after Edwards ended his White House run — and continued until December 2008, two months after Baron died. Edwards’ defense has argued any money spent after his bid cannot be a campaign contribution. Prosecutors claim Edwards was still seeking a vice presidential nomination or a spot as attorney general.
Edwards’ oldest daughter, Cate, could take the stand as early as Tuesday, two weeks after she ran out of the courtroom in tears during testimony about her cancer-stricken mother confronting her father about his affair with Hunter.
It’s not clear how her testimony could help her father’s defense.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to campaign finance violations stemming from money his ex-aide Andrew Young and others used to support Hunter. Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Edwards’ attorneys have also said he did not know about the money from Baron and wealthy heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon — and that even if he did, the cash was not a campaign contribution because it was intended to hide Hunter from Edwards’ wife, not the public.
According to financial records introduced Tuesday, the Youngs received $1.07 million from Baron and Mellon over 2007 and 2008. Tax returns showed they gave Hunter $191,000 during that time frame for private jets, stays at luxury resorts and a $20,000-a-month California rental mansion.
Defense attorneys argue the rest of the money was spent on the Youngs’ dream home in North Carolina.
Earlier Tuesday, Edwards’ former lawyer Wade Smith testified about conversations he had with Alex D. Forger, an attorney for Mellon. Forger had earlier testified for prosecutors, saying he told Smith that Edwards acknowledged some of the “Bunny Money” had been given for his benefit.
Smith said Forger misunderstood the conversation they had.
“I would not ever quote my client to someone else,” Smith testified, saying that would violate attorney-client privileged.
On Monday, Edwards’ attorneys began his defense by attempting to shift the focus away from the sex scandal to the technical issue of whether Edwards’ alleged behavior violated campaign finance laws.
Defense attorneys have not yet indicated if they will call Hunter or Edwards to testify.
Before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1998, Edwards made a fortune as a personal injury lawyer renowned for his ability to sway jurors. But his testimony would expose himself to a likely withering cross-examination about his past lies and personal failings.