Edwards seeks records from former staffer expected to testify against him

ablythe@newsobserver.com April 15, 2012 

A former speech writer for John Edwards is trying to quash a subpoena from her former boss calling on her to testify.

Wendy Button, who has written columns for the Huffington Post about her frustrations with Edwards’ public statements about his extramarital affair, is expected to be a key witness for the prosecution.

In a subpoena similar to one that Edwards’ attorneys issued to Andrew Young, his former aide who wrote a tell-all book, the former U.S. presidential candidate and Democratic senator from North Carolina is seeking sweeping information from Button.

His attorneys have asked for any correspondence and details of any calls she has had since 2009 with Young about the government investigation that led to the campaign finance charges he is fighting in court.

They are seeking details of any communication she has had with others, including the media and possible trial witnesses, about the facts of the case.

Edwards’ attorneys contend that Button has written a book that includes information about the events that led to the case.

Edwards, a former Raleigh resident who now lives outside Chapel Hill, has pleaded not guilty to campaign-finance accusations.

Prosecutors contend he secretly obtained more than $900,000 from two wealthy supporters to provide living expenses for Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer with whom he had an extramarital affair and a child.

Prosecutors argue the hundreds of thousands of dollars were campaign contributions that not only should have been reported, but also exceeded legal limits.

Edwards’ attorneys have argued in court documents that the payments were gifts that went from Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Fred Baron to third parties.

They have argued the payments were not campaign expenses, that they were meant to help Edwards hide his pregnant paramour from his wife.

In a Huffington Post column that was posted on Feb. 10, 2010, Button wrote about her frustration:

“The unbelievable and absurd details to this scandal have made it easy for the jokes to flow on late night TV, the anger to erupt on the editorial pages, and the judgment reigns (sic) down on cable TV. These are all parts of a scandal, and they give us an excuse to look away from another hard truth – this is a sad story.

For the hundreds of us who didn’t repair sex tapes with scotch tape, the truth and the details of John’s mess, they break our hearts all over again,” she wrote. “It’s like watching and re-watching disaster footage and there’s nothing we can do about it to stop everything from crumbling to the ground.”

In seeking to quash the subpoena from Edwards’ lawyers, an attorney for Button argued that it was overly broad, making it difficult for her to comply with the request.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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