February 1st, 2010
05:55 AM ET
4 years ago

Ex-Edwards' aide tells of politician's affair

Washington (CNN) - A new book about former Sen. John Edwards paints him as a cold, calculating and reckless politician willing to deny fathering a daughter, risking his marriage and putting the Democratic Party in potential political jeopardy - all in the name of trying to win the presidency.

In "The Politician," former Edwards' aide Andrew Young details the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee's efforts to conceal an ongoing extra-marital affair and the birth of a child out-of-wedlock in his 2008 run for the White House.

"The Politician" went on sale Saturday.

Young described an elaborate plan that allowed Edwards to maintain a mistress while he sought the Democratic presidential nomination. The plan was funded by two wealthy benefactors, the late trial lawyer Fred Baron and banking heir widow Bunny Mellon, but Mellon was unaware that her money was being used for the mistress.

A federal grand jury is investigating payments made to Hunter by the former senator's campaign and supporters. She had been a videographer as Edwards was preparing a bid for 2008 White House run.

In the book, Young writes that "the prosecutors pressed me for exact information about checks that were written, the way the money was used and the timing of events. They wanted names, dates, and amounts in very specific terms."

He thanks the FBI, IRS and the U.S. Attorney's office "for treating us fairly and professionally" in the Acknowledgments section of his book.

Young, who portrays himself as a one-time, idealistic loyal aide, said he was the point person in arranging rendezvous for Edwards and Hunter, and helped to keep the affair a secret.

And when Edwards impregnated Hunter, Young said he agreed to the senator's request to lie and say he was the father even though Young, himself, was married with three children.

Young said he told his wife about agreeing to Edwards' request as the couple drove through a McDonald's drive through to pick up food for their son.

"After I finally got to holler for Chicken McNuggets with chocolate milk and the right toy, I turned to Cheri and in the time it took us to reach window number one (where you give them the money), I said, 'Edwards wants me to say I'm the father of Rielle's baby, and then Fred's gonna fly us off to someplace where we can all hide,' " Young said.

His wife, Young recounted, was dumbfounded.

"Are you out of your mind? Why would you even tell me about this? Why didn't you just say no?"

Young said Hunter was also initially against the idea but warmed up to it after being told her financial needs would be met. His wife, Cheri, eventually agreed to the plan, setting in motion a chaotic time for the family as they uprooted their lives in North Carolina and criss-crossed the country with Hunter and their children in an effort to evade the media.

Edwards denied that he was the girl's father for more than a year, saying the affair was over before Hunter became pregnant. Last week, he acknowledged paternity.

"I am Quinn's father," Edwards said in a statement. "I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace."

John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, have legally separated.

On Friday, John Edwards' lawyers released a statement saying that early reports about the book indicate there are problems with Young's account.

"While we have not had an opportunity to view the interview or read the book, we urge extreme caution by everyone involved," his attorneys wrote. "From media reports, it is obvious that there are many allegations which are simply false. It appears that Andrew Young is primarily motivated by financial gain and media attention."

Earlier in the week, Elizabeth Edwards also challenged accusations Young made in the book regarding her cancer and the couple's children.

"Elizabeth is moving on with her life and wants to put this difficult chapter behind her," her publisher Random House said in a statement.

"It was an excrutiatingly (sic) painful period for her and she (has) no interest in rehashing the past. Based on the limited portions of the book that have been made available, it is clear it contains many falsehoods and exaggerations.

"She will not engage in a dialogue on each of the false charges, but would like to set the record straight on two key points. First, the allegation that she sought to politicize her cancer is unconscionable, hurtful and patently false.

"Second, she believed Andrew Young to be the father of this child until her husband confessed his paternity (sic) to her this past summer. She will have nothing further to say."

In the book, Young accuses Elizabeth Edwards of engaging in a smear campaign to undermine his credibility.

Young said it wasn't until John Edwards privately expressed indifference about the birth of his daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in February 2008, that he realized the former senator cared only about himself.

"After watching and hearing John Edwards practice a thousand little deceptions and tell a thousand different lies, ostensibly in the service of some greater good, I finally recognized that he didn't care about anyone other than himself," Young writes.

"A precious living, breathing human being - his daughter - had come into the world, and he wasn't inclined to even call the woman who had given birth to her. Instead, I had to prompt him to do the right thing, to do the most basic, human thing.

"My faith in him died almost instantly, and I felt both ashamed of my naïveté and very afraid for the future of my family."

Young also writes that:

– He has a sex tape of Edwards in his possession showing the senator with a "naked pregnant woman" that Young says is Hunter. Young said he found the damaged tape in "a box of trash that Rielle had left behind after she stayed with us for a few weeks" in the Raleigh home his family was renting. Young writes that even though the woman's face is obscured "it was safe to assume it was Rielle."

– Despite Edwards' carefully crafted image as a champion for everyday people he was "irritated by ordinary events. He especially hated making appearances at state fairs, where 'fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I'm the people's senator, but do I have to hang out with them?'"

– Edwards understood his audience and before appearing at a Service Employees International Union health care event in Las Vegas he instructed Young to take his Italian suit coat to a tailor to remove the label indicating it was Italian-made. In its place, Edwards had the tailor sew in a "Made in the USA" label that had been on Young's jacket.

– When Edwards was not on the Atkins diet, he "loved Cracker Barrel" restaurants as well as ribs.

– Edwards thought that 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry "just wasn't all that smart." Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, would later pick Edwards to be his vice presidential running mate.

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Denna

    John Edwards is an insufferable pig and Elizabeth is a saint. Rielle, well you won't even print my description of her. Don't these roving idiots know anything about using protection????? Rielle isn't much smarter either, since she should have protected herself. And what about AIDS???? Do these people think they are too "high toned" to get it. May Elizabeth Edwards live long and in good health. God Bless her.

    January 30, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Keith

    I have no respect for John Edwards after what he did to his wife and family. I hope his political career burns.

    January 30, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. WOW!

    Just WOW!!!!!!!!!!

    Ok, Libnuts - bash Palin!

    January 30, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Rlg

    Thank goodness he didn't become President; he is a weasel and a liar. He smiles and lies at the same time. Elizabeth should have left him a long time ago. She's better off without him.

    January 30, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Hugo

    I watched the broadcast on this last night, it was beyond belief and disgusting, yet the Democrats have the nerve to call the GOP corrupt? It was apparent that this guy and his billionaire backers would have done anything for a shot at one of the top three slots. Just think, this appears to be atypical of the people we have in our elected positions, kind of reminds me of Rome! Does Obama play the fiddle? My vote is for a full audit of the Edwards campaign cauffers and then off to jail with him!

    January 30, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. whaley41

    I would not read this crap if you gave the book to me.

    January 30, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    A lot of our politicians are slimebags - but the number of people writing gossip books to get wealthy from other people's problems reminds me of a bunch of vultures.

    I'm sure both types are equally despicable - at least to me. BUT - most of them go to church and then do the same things, in their personal lives, as the others.

    January 30, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. Albo58

    Like Al Gore, John Edwards is a sleezy, arrogant piece of garbage that likes to pretend that he's above us peasants! This scandal could not have happened to a better guy!

    January 30, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. D.D.

    Young was just as dirty as Edward's and the mistress. I wish no one would purchase a book.

    January 30, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Elizabeth in Seattle

    I am saddened to hear all of this about John Edwards. I really thought he was for the people. All he is is a HYPOCRIT and a LIAR. I feel for his wife and his children and the child that was born to his mistress. They are the victims in this, not Ms. Hunter and John Edwards. They knew what they were doing the whole time.

    January 30, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. 3rd party

    Your Ticker headline should have John Edward's name in it. As someone who donated money to his campaign I could not be more disappointed in him.

    January 30, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Fed Up

    Edwards deserves everything he gets. Elizabeth, I hope you take him to the cleaners. You certainly have earned it by putting up with this lump of flesh for so many years. Your life just got better.

    January 30, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Wes

    I have said from day one that Edwards was a narcissistic, egotistic, shallow unqualified scab on the Democratic Party. I truely hope that his wife Elizabeth outlives him. It really amazes me that someone like him can fool some of these people who have so much money to throw away on bums like him and then curse to high heaven when asked to pay a little more so a poor person can have medical care or food or a decent paying job. Do I think John Edwards cared about any of these issues, yes, but only to get him to his point of ecstasy of pity of being humble enough to allow another woman to make love to him. Elizabeth, divorced this scum, take him for all he has, because if you do have to leave this earth, this guy will find another looney to spend his money on instead of your children that you had with him so get it for them because he didn't think of them or you, he only thought of himself and he will never change, it's called extreme borderline personality disorder with narcissistic, hedonistic and messiah complex characteristics.

    January 30, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. feup with GOP in Houston

    Well, what a shock. You mean to tell me John Edwards is a self centered win at all costs type politician? He would fit in quite nicely in Congress.

    January 30, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Olaf Big

    There is certainly nothing new in the fact that politicians are often immoral, unscrupulous and reckless, but this is just plain stupid.
    Edwards must be delusional if he thought he could somehow conceal this story if he had won the democratic nomination. It is really scary to think that a guy with such completely impaired judgment could get so close to the White House.

    January 30, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. Truth Squad

    The real "tell-all" should be the negligence of the media.

    For years painting this guy as a honest, for-the-people, faithful husband. All-the-while KNOWING that the guy was a lying cheating two-faced, phoney.

    Once again, congrats to the liberal media showing their bias.

    January 30, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. lifelong democrat

    Sex, lies and videotapes. Democrats are always involve in sex scandal from the time of FDR all the way to the present. The most famous democrat sex scandal was JFK and Marilyn Monroe. I don't know what to say about democrats, they use their power to exploit the weak, especially women. After he's done with her, he ditch her like a used kitchen rag in the corner hoping she'll shutup her mouth through financial support promise or find a position for her the government.

    January 30, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. once upon a horse

    at one time I was a great supporter and admirer of John Edwards..at this date I wouldn't even walk across the street if he were outside my door.

    January 30, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Young was supportive of Edwards as long as the money was coming his way. I further find it disgraceful that young's wife knew what was going on with another woman's husband and she was in on the party. Any married woman with values doesn't uphold or become a party to her husband or anyone elses wrong doings. Young's wife didn't need to tell Elizabeth but she sure could have told her husband and Edwards mistress, not over my dead body.

    January 30, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Rasabu

    All this just points to how screwed up the Democratic establishment in Washington, DC, is. Thank goodness there is someone like Hillary Clinton out there to come back from what her husband did to her and to seek the presidency on her own merits. I do hope she stays around after leaving her post as SOS. The nation needs a brilliant, diplomatic, public servant with experience. I can only say "told you so" to all those Edwards supporters I met along the campaign trail for Hillary and all those folks who voted for Edwards at the Nevada caucuses, where I worked. Finally, Edwards, you aren't entitled to be called Senator Edwards. you are an embarrassment to all public servants.

    January 30, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. You are both sleaze

    Edwards is a slime ball.

    Young will become a rich man because of it. Putting all the sordid details in a book and profiting off it is somewhat hypocritical. What do you think this is doing to Mrs Edwards and her children Mr. Young?

    January 30, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. stevegee

    A true politician. What an oxymoron!

    January 30, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Willy Brown

    Love those democrats!

    January 30, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    The guy was running for president and had a sex tape. Amazing!!

    At least he wasn't in a bathroom stall or involved with underage children-oh yeah right, he's a Democrat.

    January 30, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. We the People....

    This is really very sad that Andre Young has to exploit the misfortune of a family to make money.

    January 30, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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