John Edwards gets off with mistrial ruling

Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards — some disliked him all along. Some were seduced by his Southern populism and revival-preacher manner, then hated him when they found out what a despicable person he was. When six charges related to him using campaign cash to hide his pregnant mistress came down, it was like America said, “We’ve got to punish this guy somehow. Damn.”

But campaign finance laws are written by the people subject to them, so they can be subject to a little wiggle room. Given days of deliberation, the jury could not come to a decision on five counts and declared Edwards not guilty of malfeasance in the receipt of $375,000 from 101-year-old heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon.

But a mistrial is as good as a categorical not-guilty for the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, since it was reported on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that the prosecutors would not seek to retry Edwards.

Once the verdict was read:

When the judge declared the mistrial and discharged the jury, Edwards hugged his daughter, his parents and his attorneys. Later, he thanked the jury and his family, even choking up when talking about the daughter he had with his mistress Rielle Hunter. He called Francis Quinn Hunter precious ‘whom I love, more than any of you can ever imagine and I am so close to and so, so grateful for. I am grateful for all of my children.’

 Andrew Young, a former Edwards confidant, was granted immunity by the prosecution and he and his wife seem to relish testifying against Edwards in what turned out to be a fruitless effort. Young, when the scandal broke, covered for Edwards by publicly claiming Hunter’s child as his own.

It featured testimony that sometimes read like political thriller, as aide Andrew Young described meeting Edwards on a secluded road, and Edwards warning him, ‘you can’t hurt me.’ There was also the drama of John Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, tearing her shirt off in front of her husband in a rage after a tabloid reported the affair.

Edwards was accused of masterminding a plan to use the money to hide Hunter from the media and from his breast cancer-stricken wife. Prosecutors said Edwards knew of the roughly $1 million being funneled to former aide Andrew Young and Hunter and was well aware of the $2,300 legal limit on campaign donations.

That’s cold, brother. But, as defense attorney Abbe Lowell told the jury, “This is a case that should define the difference between a wrong and a crime … between a sin and a felony. John Edwards has confessed his sins. He will serve a life sentence for those.”



by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., who served as the only true independent member of the South Carolina General Assembly from 1990-1998. Currently, he is a general practice attorney in Columbia, S.C., concentrating in probate and estate planning, criminal defense and personal injury law.

With Wes Wolfe. He wrote for 11 newspapers in five states and is the marketing coordinator for ACEC Virginia.

36 thoughts on “John Edwards gets off with mistrial ruling

  1. Terri Mostiller on said:

    I just knew he would get off. THEY always do.What I hate is he took advantage of people that believed in him and most of all his sick wife. I have no use for him

  2. Wonderwoman on said:

    Well, of course he got off – he’s a rich politician! Just think – he would probably have been our president had this not surfaced. I was so disappointed and thought he would be great!

  3. John on said:

    Heard the decision on my way to work and threw up a little in my mouth. There was the teflon don and then there is this schmuck.

  4. Mary on said:

    he has HORRID values and morals, and will get his by a much HIGHER POWER. we can’t convict someone just because they are a terrible person. I bet the laws about this are very convoluted and difficult for the average juror to totally grasp. A mistrial is NOT a not guilty plea, it just means everyone is sick and tired of the whole mess and wishes it would just GO AWAY!!! And now it will……

  5. Julie on said:

    What a low class scum-bag. There’s no justice in our justice system any more, it seems. I doubt the jury could understand the issues because of the complexities of the case.

  6. bill on said:

    This guy is way guilty — proving it, obviously, is different ball game. Think you’re right Cromer – the laws concerning this conduct are written by the wrong folks. It’s a shame that today’s society will not ostracize this scum bag – instead he’ll be on Dancing w/ the Stars w/in a year!.
    I’m w/ you Mary – he, and his adultress, will be judged by higher power … who knows maybe He will make something good from this.

  7. Gale on said:

    I knew he’s get off but that’s not the issue! He’s a low life person and NOT worthy to be called a “man”!! The very idea of his doing this while his wife was dying is what gets most people the most – and the mistress is just as guilty of being a low life for going along with him because she and the whole world knew about Elizabeth Edwards and her cancer! How horrible his oldest daughter felt at the time and I wonder what she feels like now – I’m sure she’s glad her daddy isn’t going to prison but I know she’s crying on the inside for how this whole affair made her mama feel during her last days on earth. It sounds like this scumbag got his cake and has eaten it, too! And, I’m not sure that former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young is the same Mr. Young that was Edwards’ aide and the one who said the baby was his. I did read his book and that Mr. Young was never referred to as the former Mayor of Atlanta. Maybe I missed something in the book.

    • beth on said:

      Gale you got all that right girl friend what a shame he could do that to anyone but especially his dying wife..God will reward him right… and to cheat with a low life like that Reille Hunter and ugly at that when he had a nice looking honest wife

    • cromeradmin on said:

      Gayle Gayle you are SOOO right! I just wiped the SLEEP outta my eyes and edited the piece. Thanks Lady! I love ya!

  8. Pat Chisum on said:

    How did this guy not get elected president? How cool would it be to have Bill Clinton and John Edwards cruising chicks together as ex presidents?

    But in today’s society is anyone surprised John Edwards got off…..

    oh wait, I see what you did there….. well played Cromer, well played

  9. Larry Arney on said:

    Bubba. Love your blog. But the Andrew Young in the Edwards trial is an entirely fifferent one from Mayor of Atlanta

    • cromeradmin on said:

      OMG! I am so damned TIRED! Thanks Larry! I owe you. Just corrected and added some saucey pics! You rock!

      • Polly Thompson on said:

        Just remember Bub, the season is almost over!!

  10. beth on said:

    Bubba I think they both Edwards and Young took the poor lady down the drain for their own personal benefit.

  11. sue branham on said:

    I surely was hoping for a guilty verdict on all counts. He is such a sleeze bag and he looks like he picks his nose too. Geez! He has no conscience at all and just made the statement on the news that he feels like God has other plans for him. Yes! Deep in the heart of Hell.

  12. Ben Moise on said:

    Poor old john just had a bad hair day. What is truly surprising is all the outpouring of angst over a [politician that was slick as cow slobber at the get-go.

  13. randle on said:

    Edwards may be a sleaze bag, awful person, or whatever, but he can’t be convicted of that. He had to break a law. The jury said he didn’t on one count and was divided on the rest. Experts on both sides have said from the get-go the Justice Department had a weak case. He’s been exposed for what he is. So society wins twice. The system works as it should and the villain gets punished. I don’t understand all the gnashing of teeth over this one. There are real problems out there to get exorcised about.

  14. Polly Thompson on said:

    I knew he would basically get off, unless the Feds try again. But the simple legal fact is the money that paid his whore wasn’t campaign money. This was always a question of did he cheat and ty to cover it up. Elizabeth is one of my heros, with one exception. I would have grilled his ass hard when her admitted to that baby. She is a better person than I am.

  15. Donna on said:

    I hate to be the only one to say I am “okay” with this thus far. Ok….I don’t actually hate to be the only one to say it, or to be it. So, i will go ahead and say that I’m okay with all this. I agree, he did wrong, but the jury deliberated long and it appears that they were very thorough and not lazy and as we all know, “not guilty” doesn’t mean innocent. It means not enough to meet the burden of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That has value and it means something to me. Yes, he did things that were incomprehensible, even reprehensible. He disappointed many people, including me. But, at the end of the day, the end of your blog says it aptly. Here’s one prevailing thought I will share: at the end of the day, John Edwards gets to be “there” in a real way for his children. And frankly, I have doubt that even Elizabeth would want anything different. Justice is not always what people think it is. I’m not saying he’s a great guy or a moral person. But moral people fall, fail and err. I’m good with this verdict.

  16. Sam on said:

    Being as he’s from SC, really and the hills of SC at that, will Bubba industries be bidding on the film rights???? You KNOW there’s going to be a movie.

  17. Tom on said:

    First, I think you need to run Bubba. There are less trhan a handful of legislators here in our own state that I would trust as far as I can see them. That is not the case with you, sir. Now, as far as Edwards, I agree the Jury did the right thing. We do not have a “Justice” system! We have a “Legal” system and the two are not related, as rarely, it unfortunately seems, are legal decisions truly just. But in this case, I believe justice was done. No one was harmed, except Edwards himself. None of the donors who gave the money were angry about how it was spent that I am aware of. I think our national fixation on what others do in the bedroom is a sickness, though I agree with many who commented before me that Edwards behavior in this case shows him to be a phony. But I always loved the dichotomy-He, the immoral man and candidate was the ONLY person with a moral position as far as how the poorest Americans would have been treated in his administration! We humans are indeed a strange, complicated species.

  18. Sali Parker Morris on said:

    He is way to KEWL and good looking to go to jail! If Bubba can get a good wig… he could play Edwards in the movie roll!!! I think it would be just wonderful memorial to the man and great opportunity for Bubba, because if he could just meet Oprah, then he can run for president! ;-D

  19. Maree Dillard on said:

    The verdict was certainly no surprise. However, you cannot convict on immoral behavior. At stake was the issue of him using campaign funds illegally and the prosecutor could not prove that. His cheesy response at the end of the trial only served to show what a scumbag he is. I believe we all wanted a guilty verdict in the end for the way he treated his wife and family. I shudder to think he could have been our President!

  20. Cynthia Gilliam on said:

    John Edwards life reads like a Greek Tragedy. He was a man with mighty gifts and rich blessings, How could he trash it all for a ****? His sins will hang over the heads of all of his children for all of their lives.

  21. Bob on said:

    Wait….a “politician” caught in a tryst/affair/sex scandal????!!! OMG!!! A first!!!!!
    America….WAKE UP!!!! Politicians who are decent, honorable, with integrity and character…..are “as rare as hen’s teeth!” Unfortunately, men with power tend to use/abuse that power and there are always “political groupies” around to “tap” that power. With the paparazzi at every corner, people looking to make a buck off of the indiscretions of the famous, and the internet, it’s now all in the open. Yet, our track record of sleazy politicians goes WAY back. President Warren G. Harding died 6 months after taking office….but still had time to impregnate his lover in an upstairs White House closet….while his wife was downstairs! “Nuff said” about the likes of JFK and Bill Clinton. The Senators that have had to leave office (who could forget the ultraright Senator playing “patty fingers” under the door of a stall in an airport men’s bathroom) gets longer as the years go on. Then there was Rep Weiner from NY who just happened to send his naked body to woman around the country. What Edwards did is “middle of the road” by comparison. Did you not expect him to get off?

    I don’t say all that to condone. However, Americans need to “wake up” and realize that politicians should NOT be held in such high esteem that they place them high on pedastals. When Obama ran for office three years ago, how many Americans treated him like the next “Messiah?” How many looked up to him like he was our great leader and we, the humbled, “huddled masses” who needed him to take us to the “promised land” rife with the “ooze” left by Bush? I’m not kinocking Obama. However, I am really concerned about the naivete of voting Americans who despite all these scandals, despite all these back handed, under the table deals these people do, still think their leaders are not ORDINARY human beings but “demigods.”

    Let’s hope we learn from these “scandals” to remember to vote with our heads and not only our hearts. Right now, I don’t have much faith that it will happen in my lifetime.

  22. Kenny on said:

    I’m just glad this trial is over because it’s reminded me of how duped I was by Edwards. My wife and I actually hosted a fundraiser for this slimeball at our house as part of his 2004 presidential bid. Every time his name has popped up over the last couple of years, I’ve thought about getting duped by him. In defense of ourselves, I’m not sure when Edwards drove off the rails but I’m convinced it was during the years after his 2004 campaign. A few years later, he came to Charleston and had dinner with several of us who had supported his campaign looking for support for his 2008 presidential bid and I remember thinking afterwards, “something’s off with this guy now.” Looking back, I’m convinced that his personal transgressions had begun by then. One of the most awkward conversations I’ve had with anyone was getting a phone call from Edwards about the 2008 presidential race and my telling him, “Senator, I’ve decided to support Senator Obama.” Like they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

    The people I feel for the most are his parents, who really are two of the nicest and most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. For them to have to stand behind him and listen to all of his mea culpas is something they don’t deserve, but add it to the carnage left behind by one man’s run-away ego.

    • Bob on said:

      I find your posting fascinating. Obviously, you are educated, very well connected politically (especially since you hosted a fundraiser), even ate with the guy. However, if was only after the latter even did you think “something’s off…” With all your knowledge, experience, contacts, how could you be duped by him or for that matter, any other politician? I am way out of the “inner world” you spin in. However, I have yet to find any politician I think is that upright, full of character and integrity. The ONLY people like that I have met in my life served in the military. I would have voted for Gen. Colin Powell in a heart beat. Yet, he was smart enough to stay away from elected office, obviously because he has too much integrity to play the political game that exists in America today.

      If someone like you can get “duped,” what hope does the “average American” have in choosing the best candidate for office?

      Frankly, I was concerned about that before but your post really has me worried for our future.

  23. Ashley on said:

    Mr. Young was the prosecution’s chief witness. He has had to admit, on the stand, that several of the things he wrote in his book were untrue, or at a minimum, he had no knowledge of them. Additionally, the defense has shown that he played the two donors against one another by telling one that he needed $$ to buy Rielle something like a car, but then he used $$ from the other donor to actually buy the car. Then, he’s had to admit that much of the money that was supposed to be financing Rielle’s “lavish” lifestyle was actually used by Young and his wife to finance their own even more lavish lifestyle. Despite the fact that he was not working, doing nothing for the campaign or anyone or anything else except hiding Edwards’ pregnant girlfriend and claiming that she was his lover, he was paying himself huge portions of the money and using it to build his own dream home in NC. The house he built with the donor’s money cost $1.5 million. He put none of this in his book. In that book we read he stated that the money was used almost exclusively for Rielle and her expensive tastes and that he and his wife were astounded by the money she spent. None of his own spending and lying was disclosed. On the stand he’s had to admit that he “lost his perspective” and was spending the donor’s money like a drunken sailor on himself.

    • Ms. Barr on said:

      Ashley, I agree with you. There was no way the jury could convict Edwards as their star witness, Young, confessed to using the bulk of the money for himself and his wife. So, yes, Edwards may have wanted to hide Hunter. But the fact is, he didn’t use the money; Young used it. And the money wasn’t for the campaign. Rich heiresses like to give money to their pets. “Bunny” may have been completely okay with giving Edwards money to help him out of an “unfortunate situation” that threatened to overshadow his “true potential.”

      Yes, he’s a loser. Yes, he’s a liar. Yes, he’s an adulterer. And he will have to live with what he did. But the fact is, the prosecution wasted money on a case that legally had no merit.

  24. JUNE-BUG SHISSIAS on said:

    His talk after the trial was sickening He is a jerk With his ego he deserves to be completely ignored For him, that would be the highest degree of punishment The lives he destroyed is so, so sad and you can’t make me believe he didn’t know what he was doing when he was doing it What he was tried for is miniscule in comparision to the people he hurt I do agree him on one point, I hope God isn’t through with him yet.

  25. James Hartman on said:

    I am sure there were some evidentiary difficulties, but ,of course, that does not excuse his despicable coduct regardless if it rises to the level of crome. You should be glad he is from the other Carolina.

  26. Donna on said:

    Leave aside the fact the man was a political candidate and is still a “politician.” Come on, look at how the legal system is supposed to work. I believe it worked. Leave aside the vitriol and such, and ask yourselves, really, didn’t the legal system work, i.e, didn’t the prosecution fail to meet their burden of proof?

  27. Mark on said:

    Misuse of funds, lying, trysts with women, children out of wedlock…perhaps there is hope for my political career after all.

  28. Robert Holmes on said:

    I hope that skank was worth it “Mr” Edwards. Knowing the kind of person you are, I guess there is justice in this world. Your destroyed world is well earned, now bask in it!

  29. Cadillac Barbie on said:

    I have to agree with Donna’s comments – “I agree, he did wrong, but the jury deliberated long and it appears that they were very thorough and not lazy and as we all know, “not guilty” doesn’t mean innocent. It means not enough to meet the burden of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That has value and it means something to me. Yes, he did things that were incomprehensible, even reprehensible. He disappointed many people, including me. But, at the end of the day, the end of your blog says it aptly. Here’s one prevailing thought I will share: at the end of the day, John Edwards gets to be “there” in a real way for his children. And frankly, I have doubt that even Elizabeth would want anything different. Justice is not always what people think it is. I’m not saying he’s a great guy or a moral person. But moral people fall, fail and err. I’m good with this verdict. ”

    A jury found him not guilty. He needs to be there for his children now. His political career is OVER. Andrew Young, in my opinion, was no better than Edwards – if fact, in some ways I have less respect for him.

    On a different note – Happy GLBT Pride in Indianapolis this week!

    Cadillac Barbie

  30. Joseph Maxberry on said:

    John Adams wrote in his 7th of 12 Novanglus Essays that we are “a government of laws, and not of men.” The Edwards trial, unless there are plans for a retrial, typifies this accurate, but at times disheartening fact.

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