A federal grand jury indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards Friday over allegations that he spent $925,000 in campaign donations to cover up his extramarital affair as he was running for the White House in 2008. The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. Edwards will be arraigned later Friday.
READ: Entire Indictment Here (PDF)
The indictment said the payments were a scheme to protect Edwards' White House ambitions. "A centerpiece of Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man," the indictment said. "Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the pregnancy would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards' presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy," the indictment added.
The indictment and an arrest warrant were filed in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is in the district where his campaign was headquartered. Negotiations between Edwards' attorneys and federal prosecutors to settle on a charge to which Edwards was willing to plead guilty continued through Thursday, but proved fruitless, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. Prosecutors had insisted on a plea to a felony, which would endanger his ability to keep his license to practice law.
An Edwards spokeswoman said she wasn't aware of the filing and declined immediate comment.
The criminal charges filed Friday came after a two-year federal investigation into money used to cover up an extramarital affair during the 2008 presidential election. Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, said in a statement through his attorney in 2009 that he was confident no funds from his campaign were used improperly. But federal officials have said the hundreds of thousands of dollars two Edwards donors gave to help keep his mistress in hiding were contributions that should have been reported publicly by his campaign fund because they aided his bid for the Democratic White House nomination.