John Edwards Affair: Grand Jury Indictment Decision Expected Soon

Did the former presidential candidate break campaign finance laws?

ByABC News
January 18, 2011, 6:22 AM

Jan. 18, 2011— -- A long-running federal grand jury probe of John Edwards 2008 presidential campaign is nearing its conclusion as investigators wrap up an inquiry now broadened to include issues beyond the money allegedly used to conceal Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter. Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation tell ABC News that a decision on whether to seek an indictment of Edwards is expected within the next several weeks.

Federal investigators have recently dedicated significant resources to gathering evidence and interviewing key witnesses in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. Former Senator Edwards and his attorneys have acknowledged the grand jury investigation but have denied wrongdoing.

The focus of the case remains on the money allegedly spent - upwards of $1 million - to seclude Hunter and former Edwards staffer Andrew Young, who had falsely claimed paternity of Hunter's child, while Edwards continued his pursuit of the nomination.

But the government has also been digging deeper into Edwards' past, scrutinizing the transactions of a web of loosely-connected political committees, corporations and non-profit organizations associated with his failed campaign, looking for potential violations of campaign finance and tax laws, according to several witnesses who have been interviewed in the probe.

Among the groups facing scrutiny is a non-profit organization - created by former Edwards' staffers and advisers - known as The Center for Promise and Opportunity. Tax records show the center received more than $2.2 million in 2006 from undisclosed donors and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars funding events and travel for Edwards and associates - as he sought to enhance his credentials before officially entering the race. Such tax-exempt organizations are permitted to engage in some political activity so long as that it not the primary focus.

One of the center's expenditures that has piqued investigators' interest, according to sources, is a payment of more than $120,000 to Hunter's company in the summer of 2006, ostensibly for video footage of Edwards' work for the organization. At the time, Hunter's company was also under contract with Edwards' political action committee - which paid $114,086 for a series of so-called "webisodes," featuring behind-the-scenes footage of political events and some now-infamous clips of Edwards engaged in flirtatious banter with Hunter.