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Election Law

John Edwards Is Indicted; Charges Based on FEC Advisory Opinion

Posted Jun 3, 2011 8:11 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: Former presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted today on charges related to payments made to his former campaign aide and mistress.

Edwards was charged with four counts of illegal campaign contributions, one count of conspiracy and one count of false statements, the Washington Post reports.

The prosecution contends that payments to Rielle Hunter from Edwards benefactors, including now deceased lawyer Fed Baron, amounted to campaign donations, CNN reports. The theory is based on an 11-year-old advisory opinion by the Federal Election Commission that says a gift to a candidate for federal office is a campaign contribution. The opinion is dubbed “Harvey” after the last name of the man who sought the advice.

Edwards lawyer Greg Craig has called the theory “novel and untested.”

The indictment follows a breakdown in negotiations over a plea bargain. Edwards had been reluctant to accept a felony guilty plea because he could lose his law license.

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