February 1st, 2010
05:55 AM ET
13 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. Arlene, Illinois

    Anyone who read these kind of books need to go back
    to the 3rd grade and get an education.

    January 30, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Chipster

    Edwards' behavior and failure to act responsibly are such a disappointment and a terrible waste of his talents. Cheating on his terminally ill wife was bad, lying about it was horrible. Denying it and this beautiful child is unforgivable. Sad, sad, sad. I will never understand why so many men, especially public officials, behave so badly and disconnect their minds from what they're doing and what they've done.

    January 30, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Granni G

    I hope everyone will do t he right thing and NOT BUY THIS BOOK! It is the best way to make the point to these people who gossip, betray friends and confidences, and exploit other people's mistakes and misfortunes for their own personal monetary game. This "author" is sleazier than John Edwards ever hoped to be. I consider it a point of honor NOT to reward him in his sleazy endeavor and I will write to protest to any interview show that has him on to promote his book.

    As for John Edwards, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" as a very very wise man said centuries ago. Personally I thank Mr. Edwards for being the instrument of forcing the populism and focus on the working and middle classes into the primary debate . I offer blessings and prayers to him and his extraordinary wife, Elizabeth, and hope he comes out of this chastened, strong, still believing in himself, and able to offer his considerable talents to the nation in some way in the future.

    Granni G

    January 30, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. JES

    Edwards was a slug when he was our Senator and nothing has changed.

    He has had his 15 minutes let's move on to important news.

    January 30, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. John D.

    Not worth posting a comment on. Just another Democrat wanting to screw over the country!

    January 30, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Kari

    How those people who knew about Edwards' lies could stand by and let him continue on his quest for the presidency is beyond comprehension.

    January 30, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    From day one, I cannot trust a word out of this man's mouth. After you have lived long enough, you saw enough characters. Perhaps he was why I did not vote for John Kerry. I looked at Edwards and couldn't picture him in the White House. Then I doubted Kerry's judgment just as I doubted McCain's on choosing Palin.

    January 30, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Seawife

    this man befriended Mr. Edwards then he stuck the knife in him.

    Some of the things he wrote about Eliz. Edwards I absolutely do not believe.

    Young has embellshed quite a bit of lies into his book. Young is out for the money, what else .

    January 30, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Ready for 2012

    Wow, a dishonest politician. YAWN!!!

    January 30, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Debby

    Edwards and Sanford = SCUM

    January 30, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. JK Ashburn, VA

    I guess Edwards was right - there are two Americas: One for honest, hardworking, ethical people and one for ultra sleeze bags like him. The only problem is that his America contains a lot more politicians than we all know. He's certainly the king of the dung heap though.

    January 30, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. SocialismBad

    There are no words strong enough to describe this worthless despicable person. Truly a fine example of Democratic Presidential material! This scum running for President was truly outragegeous. He makes Bill Clinton look like a choir boy!

    January 30, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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