Corruption trial begins for former Sen. John Edwards
The trial that will determine whether campaign finances were mishandled by former Sen. John Edwards began Monday, April 23. The prosecution started the proceedings by stating that Edwards was aware that donations totaling almost $1 million from two contributors were illegal according to The New York Times.
Edwards claims that the money was intended to help him hide an affair from his wife. However, the defense is arguing that one of the donations was a scheme by campaign aide Andrew Young to siphon money from Rachel Mellon, a banking heiress. The remainder of the money was used to pay for medical expenses of Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ mistress, and to keep his wife from discovering his affairs, according to Edwards’ lawyers.
“It never crossed his mind that the money would be in violation of campaign finance law,” defense lawyer Allison Van Laningham told the jury. “John Edwards did not get one penny of this money.”
The jury will have to decide whether to believe Edwards or the testimony of his former aide, Young, who has been granted immunity.
“It’s not a federal crime to have an affair,” head prosecutor David V. Harbach II said. “That is not the reason to convict him. At the end of this trial, there will be plenty of reasons to do so.”
If Edwards is convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $1.5 million.