Edwards prosecutors track ‘Bunny money’

By Laurie Bennett

April 27, 2012 at 11:08am

Heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon is ever-present in the criminal trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards.

Bunny Mellon
Bunny Mellon

Media coverage alternately describes her donations as “Bunny money” or, simply “hush money.”

Prosecutors accuse Edwards of conspiring to get Mellon and Texas attorney Fred Baron to pay nearly $1 million to keep his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, out of the spotlight.

Mellon, now 101 years old, is the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon. She met Edwards in 2006, liked him, and was riled by criticism of his expensive haircuts.

According to the indictment, she sent a note to former campaign aide and current prosecution witness Andrew Young saying, “From now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for his campaign - please send the bills (to me).”

Mellon later told Newsweek that Edwards “would have been a great president.”

Prosecutors have shown jurors cancelled checks Mellon wrote to her interior decorator, who endorsed them and sent them to Young and his wife, Cheri.

“It was a truckload of money, more money than had ever flowed through our accounts,” Young testified.

He said he raised concerns with Edwards, who assured him that the donations were legal.

Defense attorneys contend that the checks were personal gifts that are not covered by campaign finance law.

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