Witnesses named in former Senator Edwards' finance trial

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 13, 2012 3:28 PM
Witnesses named in former Senator Edwards' finance trial

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - John Edwards' mistress, his eldest daughter and the campaign aide who helped hide the former presidential candidate's affair are among those named on the lengthy witness lists filed at the start of Edwards' campaign finance criminal trial.

Attorneys for the federal government and for the one-term Democratic U.S. senator revealed their potential witnesses after jury selection that kicked off in Greensboro, North Carolina on Thursday.

Edwards, 58, is accused of knowingly violating federal campaign finance laws by receiving more than $900,000 from two wealthy donors in an effort to conceal his extramarital affair while he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Justice Department attorneys say Edwards, who also ran for president in 2004 before becoming John Kerry's vice presidential running mate the same year, knew exposure of his pregnant mistress would destroy his public image and doom his campaign.

The former candidate, who faces prison time if convicted, denies any wrongdoing. He says he was unaware of the money used to cover living expenses, medical care and travel for Rielle Hunter, a campaign worker who gave birth to Edwards' child soon after he suspended his 2008 presidential bid.

Hunter is listed as a possible witness for both sides in the trial, which began on Thursday with 185 people sworn in for consideration as jurors. Jury selection resumes on Monday.

Edwards' eldest daughter, Cate, who accompanied her father to court on Thursday, could testify for the defense. Her mother and Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in 2010.

Prosecutors expect to call former Edwards' campaign aide Andrew Young to the stand. Young, who was granted immunity by the government, initially claimed he had fathered Hunter's child and later wrote a book about Edwards' affair and the efforts to keep it shielded from the public.

Neither of the donors who supplied the money at the heart of the federal charges will testify.

Fred Baron, who was Edwards' 2008 campaign finance chairman, died in October 2008, and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon is elderly and physically unable to attend the trial. Baron's wife, Lisa Blue Baron, is listed as a witness.

(Reporting By Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Vicki Allen)