Election Law

DOJ Reportedly OKs Possible Prosecution of John Edwards re Affair Cover-Up Payments

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Updated: Relying on unidentified sources, major news organizations are reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice has approved the pursuit of a possible criminal indictment against former presidential candidate John Edwards related to money spent to cover up an extramarital affair.

The affair cover-up expenditures could have violated campaign-finance law if more than $1 million allegedly paid by political donors to the woman with whom Edwards, now 57, fathered a child and the Edwards aide initially said to be the father was deemed to have been spent for a campaign purpose, the Wall Street Journal explains.

Election law limits the extent to which campaign funds can be spent for personal benefit and requires disclosure of expenditures.

The newspaper says Edwards and the DOJ are working on a plea agreement. If that effort isn’t successful, the government is expected to ask a grand jury to indict Edwards, who is an attorney and former North Carolina senator.

However, Gregory Craig, a lawyer for Edwards, says in a written statement that his client did not break the law, reports the Associated Press.

Describing the theory under which Edwards is being criticized as unprecedented, Craig says the prosecution position being reported is “wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”

The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post also have stories.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Payments to Edwards’ Mistress Raise Campaign Law Issues”

ABAJournal.com: “Did Edwards’ Friends Pay for $50K Trip Hunter Took With Baby?”

Updated at 5:40 p.m. to provide information from the Associated Press.

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