Former US presidential candidate John Edwards has appeared in court in America on charges he used campaign contributions to cover up an affair.
The former senator is accused of accepting the equivalent of nearly 700,000 euros in funds from two wealthy donors, knowing the exposure of his infidelity “would destroy his presidential bid.”
He faces up to 30 years in jail.
Tara Malloy from the Campaign Legal Centre explained the key issue surrounding the trial:
“At the heart of this case is whether almost one million dollars of payments made to benefit Edwards by essentially allowing that Rielle Hunter, his mistress, would be cared for, should be considered a personal gift to Edwards or whether it should be considered a campaign contribution to his presidential campaign in 2008.”
Edwards’ lawyers claim the money was not spent to influence the election but conceal liaisons with mistress Rielle Hunter and resulting pregnancy from Edwards’ wife Elizabeth, who was dying of breast cancer.
The affair took place during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign.
Edwards admits personal failings but insists he broke no laws.
Federal law allows a maximum of $2300 (1700 euros) individual contribution from supporters.