'Bunny' Money Was Gift for Edwards: Lawyer

Rachel Mellon never intended the payments as campaign donations: testimony
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2012 3:25 PM CDT
Alex Forger, attorney for Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, arrives at the federal courthouse in Greensboro, NC, Monday, May 7, 2012 for the trial of former presidential candidate and Sen. John Edwards.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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(Newser) – Another prosecution witness in the John Edwards trial may have just helped torpedo the prosecution. The lawyer for Rachel "Bunny" Mellon testified today that the billionaire heiress gave Edwards payments as gifts, not campaign contributions, MSNBC reports. Falsely labeled for furniture purchases, the checks were always intended to help Edwards handle a "personal problem," said her lawyer, Alex Forger. If true, that means Edwards didn't mishandle campaign donations in using the money to hide his relationship with Rielle Hunter.

Mellon, now 101, had grown to like Edwards "as a person, not because he was running for president," Forger said. "If he wanted to be president of Duke University, she would have supported that." Forger added that Mellon's interior decorator, Bryan Huffman, who handled the checks, said "the senator did not or should not know" about the payments. Last week Huffman testified that the payments were in fact intended to help Edwards cover up his affair with Hunter—not fund his campaign for president.

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