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John Edwards's Tangled Web

How miserable is it to be John Edwards right now? Elizabeth's new book containing details of her reaction to his affair--she threw up--is about to come out and now federal investigators are combing through his campaign finances to figure out if he used any of that money to pay off his mistress in order to keep her quiet. As the News & Observer article on the investigation makes pretty clear, it's going to be tough for the feds to untangle whether any of the money intended for the campaign was improperly given to Rielle Hunter, in part because Edwards's political operation included a confusing mish-mash of nonprofits without the same disclosure rules as a political campaign.

The thing that's ironic about this is that it does seem pretty clear that Rielle Hunter was paid what some could construe as hush money--by Fred Baron, a Dallas lawyer who was chairman of Edwards's finance committee in 2004 and 2008 and who paid for Hunter and the supposed father of her baby, Edwards aide Andrew Young, to relocate from Chapel Hill to California. Edwards and Baron both maintained that Edwards knew nothing of the payments--which Baron said he made because Hunter was being hounded by tabloid reporters in Chapel Hill--but, while so much else Edwards said about Hunter was later proven to be a lie, in this instance, his denial will likely remain uncontradicted. That's because the only person who could presumably contradict it, Baron, died last October

--Jason Zengerle