Lost in the flurry of reporting about former Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards’ extramarital activities are questions surrounding campaign fund impropriety.
Records indicate that an Edwards PAC, the One American Committee, which was set up to fight poverty, spent $114,000 for the production of several short Web-based videos. The videos were produced in 2006 by Rielle Hunter; the same woman with whom Edwards has admitted having an affair. Hunter reportedly pitched the Web video idea to Edwards in a New York City bar.
IMDB shows Hunter’s professions as writer, actress and producer, having had written, acted and produced a short film, “Billy Bob and Them,” under her own production company, R. Hunter Films. One key question is, Why would Edwards direct his PAC to pay an arguably inflated price to a relatively inexperienced individual to have her work on such an important project?
It may turn out that Hunter was paid a far larger sum. According to Fox News, Fred Baron, a Dallas lawyer and former campaign finance chairman for Edwards, gave money in the $15,000 a month ballpark to Hunter.
Edwards claims he had no knowledge of Baron’s payments and that he learned about the cash given to Hunter from the press.
Hunter now lives in a rented home that is worth several million dollars. The residence is located in a gated section of Montecito, an exclusive area of Santa Barbara, Calif. Andrew Young (a top Edwards aide who claimed to be the father of Hunter’s child) and his wife are reportedly roommates of Hunter at the Montecito home.
Hunter and business partner Mimi Hockman apparently set up Midline Groove Productions in 2006 to produce the Edwards Web videos. Midline Groove’s Web site has since been pulled from the Internet, although Hockman is still shown as owner of the company’s domain, midlinegroove.com.
The videos, too, disappeared from the Internet, only to resurface via an anonymous posting on YouTube.
Midline Groove Productions was described on its now missing site as “committed to projects that reveal truth.” In a 2007 interview with the TV show “Extra,” Hunter shared her feelings about working with Edwards.
“He was very authentic. He was inspirational to me,” Hunter said. “I was around him a lot. It was great. We went to Africa. The whole experience was life altering for me.”
James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor, and teacher of mass media and entertainment law at Biola University.
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