Former presidential candidate U.S. Senator John Edwards goes on trial Monday on charges he used illegal campaign contributions to cover up an affair.
Rielle Hunter became pregnant during his failed bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination and Edwards, with the help of aide Andrew Young, concealed it.
John Edwards is accused of accepting more than $900,000 in campaign funds from two wealthy donors, with the hope of burying the love child scandal.
The politician did this knowing the exposure of his extramarital affair "would destroy his presidential campaign," prosecutors said in a pre-trial brief.
The candidate at the time was a married father of three whose wife, Elizabeth Edwards, had terminal breast cancer. She passed away in December 2010.
Jurors will hear opening statements at the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., this morning. Edwards, 58, is accused of conspiring to solicit money.
By receiving more than the $2,300 allowed from any one donor, and failing to report the payments as contributions, prosecutors say he broke the law.
He faces six felony counts, each carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Edwards insists he broke no laws throughout.Edwards admits personal failings, but he and his defenders say the government is overreaching with its prosecution of a case that is flimsy at best.
Defense lawyers will dispute the Justice Department's interpretation of federal election laws, arguing the donors would have given the money regardless of the campaign and did so knowing it wouldn't be used for campaign purposes.
The money was not spent to influence the election but rather to conceal the affair and resulting pregnancy from Edwards' wife and children, they said.
There was also a John Edwards sex tape involved.
Edwards never personally received any of the payments, nor did his campaign for the White House. The money was used to cover living expenses and medical care for Rielle Hunter, rather than traditional campaign activities.
Whether or not he is convicted may hinge on the jurors' interpretation of campaign finance law (a complex matter to say the least), as well as his bid to discredit the credibility and motives of Young, the prosecution's star witness.
The jury selection process began earlier this month.