New York Times: Edwards lies low, but that won’t last

By: Kim Severson
The New York Times

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Over the past few weeks, people in this tight-knit university community have not seen much of John Edwards.

They used to. He would hang out on a metal stool at Bowbarr, a short walk from the environmentally friendly condominium complex where he moved after details of an extramarital affair sent him from the family home.

He would swing into Crook’s Corner, a legendary Southern restaurant, for an order of fried oysters to go, talking to anyone around and looking like the polished but approachable Democratic presidential candidate he once was.

After his estranged wife, Elizabeth Edwards, died of cancer in early December, the chef at Crook’s Corner, Bill Smith, would slip in an extra dessert for their children.

“We all just feel for him, no matter what he’s done,” Mr. Smith said. “And you know there is more to come.”

That “more” is the possibility that a federal grand jury in Raleigh could soon hand up an indictment against him in a case centering on campaign finance practices.

One issue is whether Mr. Edwards knew that some of the millions of dollars given by at least two wealthy donors was being used to help support — and hide, some contend — Rielle Hunter, the campaign videographer with whom he had a prolonged affair, and the daughter they conceived.

The money used to support Ms. Hunter could be considered campaign contributions if prosecutors can show that Mr. Edwards helped orchestrate donations for that purpose, or that he knew the money would be used to keep the affair hidden so it would not hurt his 2008 presidential candidacy.

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