GREENSBORO, N.C. — John Edwards for weeks assured a campaign aide who was helping conceal his extramarital affair that he wouldn't abandon him after suspending his 2008 presidential campaign, only to do just that, the former aide testified Wednesday.
In June 2008, about six months after dropping out of the race, Edwards told the aide, Andrew Young, that he was seeking $50 million from multimillionaire heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to fund a poverty foundation, Young testified. Young said he was told the foundation would give him a job.
Edwards wanted to "be to poverty what Al Gore was to the environment," Young said during his third day of testimony before a federal jury where Edwards is on trial for alleged campaign finance violations.
In mid-June 2008, after not speaking since January, the two men met in Washington, Young said. Edwards, a Democrat and former U.S. senator for North Carolina, apologized for not having called and told Young he was sad about the election, Young said.
Edwards said "he loved me and I should know that he would not abandon me," Young testified. "He promised to work on returning phone calls, staying in touch and work on the foundation."
"Is it true you fell in love with John Edwards?" Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Edwards, asked Young on cross-examination. "Is it true you fell out of love with John Edwards?"
"Yes, sir," Young answered.
"Is it true you've come to disdain him?" Lowell asked.
"Yes, for what he's done to me and my family," Young said. Young also testified that he saw Edwards as his "ticket to the top."
Edwards is accused of illegally using almost $1 million in contributions from Mellon and Fred Baron, a now-deceased trial lawyer, to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, an unemployed filmmaker he hired as a campaign videographer. Edwards, who fathered a child with Hunter, faces a maximum five-year prison term for each of the six counts against him if convicted.
Prosecutors allege Edwards used Young to do his "dirty work," seeking out donors for money to support Hunter. Edwards's lawyers have labeled Young as an opportunist who used some of the funds in dispute to build a mansion in Chapel Hill, N.C.