WASHINGTON — The US Justice Department Wednesday said it would drop remaining charges against former Democratic star and presidential hopeful John Edwards who was charged with misusing campaign funds.
The lawyer turned politician saw his stellar career collapse after he fathered a child with videographer Rielle Hunter in 2007 and then lied about their affair to his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, and the public.
On May 31, Edwards was found not guilty of one count of using campaign donations to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. A mistrial was declared on the five remaining counts.
The Justice Department however issued an order Wednesday for dismissal on those remaining charges.
“The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment. In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
“We knew that this case — like all campaign finance cases — would be challenging,” Brewer added. “But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime.”
Edwards had faced a potential 30-year jail term and 1.5 million dollar fine.
“Big sigh of relief. Ready to move forward with life,” his daughter Cate Edwards, 30 and an attorney, said in a message on Twitter.
The trial, in Greensboro, North Carolina, looked at how campaign funds donated to Edwards by wealthy supporters were used — almost one million dollars that came from two benefactors. Edwards, 58, was accused of using the funds to benefit Hunter, who worked on a campaign video for him and with whom he fathered a daughter, to cover up their affair.
The funds came from a wealthy Texas lawyer, Fred Baron, who died in 2008, and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, now 101, widow of banker Paul Mellon.
[Image via IowaPolitics.com]