Did the Obama Campaign Know about John Edwards’ Affair?

At John Edwards' campaign finance fraud trial, a former associate testified he'd warned Obama officials of the Senator's infidelity during the 2008 election.

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AP / Chuck Burton

John Edwards arrives at a federal courthouse with his daughter Cate in Greensboro, N.C.

Although former presidential candidate John Edwards expressed interest in being President Obama’s running mate in the 2008 campaign, a one-time donor said he discouraged the campaign from bringing Edwards aboard because of the tempest caused by the scandal surrounding him and mistress Rielle Hunter.

Tim Toben, a developer from Chapel Hill, N.C., who donated to Edwards’ presidential campaign and was also an adviser, testified at Edwards’ campaign finance fraud trial on Tuesday. Toben said he was surprised when Edwards told him toward the end of the 2008 campaign season that he still entertained the notion of being picked as a potential vice presidential candidate. Toben, who knew about Edwards’ affair, told the court, “I couldn’t believe a man with a 4-month-old baby with another woman would seriously consider running for vice-president.”

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After the two men spoke, Toben said he contacted the then-North Carolina director of the Obama campaign and warned him to take a hard look in to the rumors swirling about Edwards, the Associated Press reported.

In testimony, Toben said he learned about the affair between Hunter and Edwards when he was asked to take her to meet a private jet in the middle of the night as she ran from reporters. Later on, he got hold of items belonging to Hunter, one of which was a photo of Edwards that was signed “I love you, John.”

Edwards defense lawyers asked Toben about a sex tape of Edwards and Hunter that has come up in the trial. He admitted that he joked with staff member Andrew Young about the tape in an e-mail from 2009. It said “wonder what that tape is worth today.” Young earlier testified that he and his wife Cheri kept the tape not for monetary gain, but as proof of the affair.

In other testimony from Tuesday, an Edwards ex-speechwriter told jurors that the candidate knew all along that a rich donor was supporting Hunter while she was pregnant. Wendy Button testified that Edwards told her that he knew Fred Baron, who was his campaign finance chair, was giving money to Hunter to live off of during the campaign. “He said he knew that Fred had been taking care of things all along, but that he didn’t know the details,” Button said.

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Edwards eventually released a statement that he had fathered the child with Hunter in January 2010, but told Button to remove any admission about knowing of Baron’s help because of “legal and practical reasons.”

Since then, Edwards has denied knowing about any money from Baron and wealthy heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon secretly provided to Hunter. He gas been charged with six counts of campaign finance rule violations and has pleaded not guilty.