Monday 20 November 2017

Edwards cleared in campaign funding trial

Colleen Jenkins

Jurors acquitted former US Senator John Edwards on one count of taking illegal campaign contributions last night and the judge declared a mistrial on five other counts because the jury was deadlocked.

Mr Edwards (58), who did not testify in the trial, was found not guilty of accepting illegal campaign contributions from supporter Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008.

Prosecutors argued he used funds from Ms Mellon as well as another wealthy donor during his 2008 presidential campaign to keep voters from learning he was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, who died in 2010.

Gift

The mistrial ruling came after the jury said it could not reach a verdict on the remaining five charges on the ninth day of deliberations at the federal courthouse in Greensboro in North Carolina, the state Mr Edwards represented in the US Senate from 1999 to 2005.

The defence said the supporters' money was meant as a personal gift to shield Elizabeth Edwards from her husband's indiscretions, not to influence the election.

Asked how he felt following the acquittal and mistrial, Wallace Edwards, the former senator's father, pointed at the smile on his face. "This says it all," he said.

Earlier in the day, the jury announced it had reached a decision on a single charge, but did not reveal the verdict.

At that time, the jury said it was deadlocked on a similar count of receiving illegal campaign money from Ms Mellon in 2007; two counts of accepting illegal campaign money from friend and supporter Fred Baron; one count of conspiring to solicit illegal campaign funds; and one count of failing to report the donor payments as campaign contributions.

Irish Independent

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