- John Edwards was charged with campaign finance violations in 2011 related to his 2008 presidential run.
- He was accused by the DOJ of funneling nearly $1 million in donations to his pregnant mistress.
- Edwards was acquitted of one campaign finance violation charge – the others were dropped.
As an indictment looms against former President Donald Trump for an alleged silent payment made to Stormy Daniels to keep their case quiet, legal experts speculate what the outcome will be if Trump is indicted for breach campaign finance.
The last time a presidential candidate was criminally charged for alleged campaign finance violations, John Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
Edwards served as John Kerry’s running mate in 2004 in the duo’s losing run against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney before launching his own presidential campaign in 2008.
The crime charges the former North Carolina senator in 2011 – one count of conspiring to violate federal campaign finance laws and lying to the Federal Election Commission, four counts of accepting and receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of concealing those illegal donations from the FEC – stemmed from his own 2008 campaign. Each faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
“Mr. Edwards allegedly accepted more than $900,000 in an effort to conceal from the public facts that he believed would adversely affect his candidacy,” Assistant Attorney General Breuer said in a Justice Department statement regarding the act. of accusation.
A year-long investigation and trial revealed the facts Edwards was accused of conspiring with his campaign team to cover up were that he in 2007 fathered a daughter with his mistress while his wife was battling a breast cancer.
Edwards later admitted to the affair, that he was the girl’s father and supported the couple financially. His wife, Elizabeth, filed for separation after Edwards admitted the child was his, but died from illness before criminal charges were brought.
In the case against him, DOJ officials argued that Edwards orchestrated a series of illegal donations to pay money to his mistress, then conspired with his staff to lie about the affair and cover up illegal donations with memos like “chairs”. “antique table” and “library”.
Legal experts viewed the case as shaky because the charges were not based on any specific federal law, but an advisory opinion drafted by the FEC that gifts to political candidates should be considered campaign contributions, reported CNN and the Washington Post at the time.
After nine days of deliberation, a jury acquitted Edwards on one charge of accepting an unlawful gift, ABC News reported, but was hopelessly deadlocked on the other five counts, prompting a quashing of the charge. trial. The Justice Department chose not to try Edwards again, Politico reported.
“It’s not illegal to be a pig,” Brett Kappel, a Washington campaign finance expert, told The Washington Post at the time the charges were filed. “Was what Edwards did slimy? Absolutely. Everyone would agree it was wrong. But it’s not a crime.”
Edwards did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent to his law firm.
Former President Donald Trump said on Saturday he expects to be arrested next week in connection with an ongoing investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney into an alleged silent payment of $130,000 to the adult film actor Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.
Although Trump has said he expects to be arrested, his lawyers say that is speculation, and it is still unclear what action the prosecutor’s office will take or when.