GREENSBORO, N.C. (MCT) — Two portraits of John Edwards emerged in opening arguments at the trial of the disgraced politician, who is accused of breaking campaign finance laws by accepting more than $900,000 in illegal contributions to help conceal an extramarital affair during his 2008 bid for president.
The prosecution on Monday portrayed Edwards as a liar and a deceiver who went to great lengths to cover up his affair in order to protect his campaign image as a family man. The defense portrayed him as a man who committed a sin — a sin Edwards acknowledges — but did not break the law.
The former senator from North Carolina has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations. Prosecutors contend that bills paid by two Edwards benefactors were unreported campaign contributions designed to cover up Edwards’ affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, which went on even as Edwards’ wife was battling cancer.
While the defense has argued that the money from Edwards’ benefactors should be considered gifts rather than campaign contributions, the prosecution says it was campaign money intended to protect Edwards’ presidential ambitions.