Bunny Mellon Speaks of 'Great Friend' John Edwards

Reclusive donor is at heart of campaign finance indictment
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2011 10:10 AM CDT
Former presidential candidate John Edwards leaves federal court following an appearance in Greensboro, NC, Thursday, July 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

(Newser) – Why did millionaire philanthropist Rachel "Bunny" Mellon give John Edwards $725,000: to save his presidential campaign or to hide his extramarital affair from his wife? That question, at the heart of Edwards' indictment on charges of campaign finance violations, has thrust the reclusive Mellon into the spotlight. But her motivations may have been quite simple: "It's a crush," her upset grandson, who testified before the Edwards grand jury, tells Meryl Gordon in an in-depth Newsweek profile of the heiress. Mellon herself, who hadn't given an extended interview in more than 25 years, tells Gordon she and Edwards were "great friends," and that she was "so surprised when this thing came up."

According to her grandson, Edwards is still in Mellon's good graces, despite everything. But both he and another close friend say Mellon wasn't coerced by Edwards: "If you are 100 years old, you get to like who you like," says the friend. "I don't think she's been gullible." Mellon also "was not enamored" of Elizabeth Edwards, says her lawyer. The way Mellon puts it: "You know that John had a hard time with Elizabeth." In fact, some friends believe Mellon was tolerant of Edwards' affair because of her own husband's indiscretions, which she grew to accept. Mellon met Edwards through another friend, Bryan Huffman, and got upset when the media started mocking his $400 haircuts. She started sending checks to Huffman, who then signed them over to Edwards aide Andrew Young, but Huffman insists neither he nor Mellon knew about Rielle Hunter. Click for the full piece, which delves into Mellon's personal history (she was great friends with Jackie O) as well as another recent scandal she found herself embroiled in.

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