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Ex-aide’s book about Edwards alleges trail of hush money

By Mike Baker
Associated Press / January 29, 2010

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RALEIGH, N.C. - Dealing with a pregnant mistress and a suspicious wife, John Edwards and a close aide agreed by the middle of 2007 to solicit funds from a wealthy widow who had promised to “do whatever it takes’’ to make him president, according to the former confidant’s new book.

Bunny Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon, began sending checks “for many hundreds of thousands of dollars’’ hidden in boxes of chocolates, according to “The Politician,’’ by former Edwards aide Andrew Young. The tell-all describes how Young took the money and used it to keep mistress Rielle Hunter happy, hiding her from the media and a cancer-stricken Elizabeth Edwards.

Young asserts the former vice presidential nominee later said he did not know about the cash even though the two discussed the matter and the money began arriving soon after Edwards made a call to Mellon.

“The Politician’’ is due in bookstores tomorrow. An advance copy was given to the Associated Press by publisher St. Martin’s Press.

The book has received a lot of attention because of its racy details about the affair, the crumbling Edwards marriage, and the candidate’s efforts to keep the paternity of his child with the mistress hidden. John Edwards admitted last week that he was the father of the girl, who is now almost 2 years old.

But it also contains some of the most detailed information about a hanging question for the future of John Edwards: an ongoing federal grand jury investigation into his campaign’s finances.

Prosecutors have refused to comment about the investigation, but Young says he spent hours testifying to the grand jury about the “huge sums of money that had quietly changed hands’’ during the campaign.

Hunter also made an appearance at the federal courthouse in Raleigh, where the grand jury is meeting.

Edwards has said in a previous statement that he is “confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly.’’ A spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment yesterday.

Mellon, now 99, had promised to give money to political groups backing Edwards even before the affair began and eventually gave a total of $6 million for his causes, according to Young’s book.