04.23.10

Edwards to Testify About Sex Tape

John Edwards will testify under oath about his relationship with mistress Rielle Hunter, facing questions about the infamous sex tape and whether he spent campaign funds to hide the relationship.

Former presidential candidate John Edwards has a date with destiny: The Daily Beast has learned Edwards has been called to submit to a sworn deposition on May 13 in the case of Rielle Hunter v. Andrew Young.

Like that other famously philandering Democrat, Bill Clinton, Edwards is forced to testify under oath about his extramarital sex life—specifically that much-talked-about sex tape he made with mistress Rielle Hunter—and whether he might have spent federal campaign funds to keep Hunter lavishly hidden away from the media and under the watchful eye of trusted aide Andrew Young.

A federal grand jury has reportedly been looking into Edwards’ campaign spending habits for some time, though the former North Carolina senator has denied any impropriety. "I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly," Edwards said in the statement last May. "However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely matter." Calls to attorneys for Hunter and Edwards were not immediately returned.

The unemployed Hunter, mother of Edwards' 2-year-old love child, got this embarrassing deposition ball rolling back in January and can’t seem to let it go. A team of high-profile North Carolina attorneys were brought in, widely believed to be paid for by John Edwards, to file an invasion of privacy suit on Hunter’s behalf. They demanded Young return the sex tape and other personal photographs she'd left behind during the cross-country odyssey to hide her pregnancy. Young described the tape in great detail in his bestselling book, The Politician, which outlines the senator's self-destructive fall from grace.

Young appeared at all five hearings held in Superior Court in Hillsborough, North Carolina. He testified at three of them. Rielle Hunter never once appeared in court. Finally, Judge Abraham Penn Jones became satisfied that all her property (and all copies of the videotape) had been returned by Young. But for some reason Hunter continues to pursue the matter. Calls placed to her lead attorney, Wade Barber, have gone unanswered.

It’s difficult to say how Hunter can continue to claim her privacy has been invaded after she has appeared half-clothed in the pages of GQ magazine along with a lengthy interview and on national television answering questions from Oprah, a program that airs April 29, the first day of the all-important television sweeps period.

Since the suit lingers, Young’s defense team has employed an aggressive tactical stance: They’ve set no fewer than five dates for Hunter to appear to give her deposition. She’s failed to show every time, even after Judge Jones ordered her appearance on April 21. Young’s lawyers then filed a motion to dismiss the entire case based on Hunter’s “refusal to appear for deposition in this action.” Another court hearing is forthcoming on that motion, as well as one by Hunter’s team requesting all deposition testimony she gives be sealed from the public.

So now the screws are being slowly tightened, according to court documents seen by The Daily Beast. Former senator and presidential hopeful Johnny Reid Edwards has been notified his deposition is set for “May 13, 2010, and the deposition of another witness on May 24, 2010.”

No one will confirm who that other witness might be. Some speculate it is Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged and very angry wife of John. The Daily Beast can report while Mrs. Edwards may, indeed, be deposed at some point in this process, the next person on the list is someone who, according to a well-placed source, “knows a lot about Rielle and her past relationships with all sorts of men.”

Edwards’ lawyer, Jim Cooney, did not return a telephone message inquiring whether his client intended to make that May 13th deposition.

Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered the Michael Jackson story since 1993 when she first broke the news that the King of Pop was under investigation for child molestation. She is author of the book, Be Careful Who You Love—Inside the Michael Jackson Case. She lives in New York with her husband, broadcast journalist Michael Schoen.