Presidential candidate John Edwards is caught up in a love child scandal, a blockbuster ENQUIRER investigation has discovered.
The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively that Rielle Hunter, a woman linked to Edwards in a cheating scandal earlier this year, is more than six months pregnant — and she’s told a close confidante that Edwards is the father of her baby!
The ENQUIRER’s political bombshell comes just weeks after Edwards emphatically denied having an affair with Rielle, who formerly worked on his campaign and told another close pal that she was romantically involved with the married ex-senator.
The ENQUIRER has now confirmed not only that Rielle is expecting, but that she’s gone into hiding with the help of a former aide to Edwards. The visibly pregnant blonde has relocated from the New York area to Chapel Hill, N.C., where she is living in an upscale gated community near political operative Andrew Young, who’s been extremely close to Edwards for years and was a key official in his presidential campaign.
And in a bizarre twist, Young — a 41-year-old married man with young children — now claims HE is the father of Rielle’s baby! But others are skeptical, wondering if Young’s paternity claim is a cover-up to protect Edwards.
Meanwhile, Edwards’ cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth has joined him on the campaign trail.
In a statement issued to The ENQUIRER through her attorney, Rielle said: “The fact that I am expecting a child is my personal and private business. This has no relationship to nor does it involve John Edwards in any way. Andrew Young is the father of my unborn child.”
But a source extremely close to the 43-year-old divorcée says Rielle has told a far different story privately: “Rielle told me she had a secret affair with Edwards. When she found out that she was pregnant, she said he was the father.”
Rielle loves Edwards and will do anything to protect him, the source says.
In The ENQUIRER’s Oct. 22 issue, we revealed that Edwards, 54, was involved in a mistress scandal and the shocking allegations — if proven true — could devastate the Democratic hopeful’s campaign.
At the time, we withheld Rielle’s name, but reported that an insider told The ENQUIRER that she claimed that she began the affair some 18 months earlier. She talked about her relationship in phone calls and e-mails.
After our story was published, several political bloggers correctly identified “the other woman” as Rielle, a self-described filmmaker whose company was hired by a pro-Edwards group called One America Committee and paid $114,000 to produce videos for Edwards’ campaign. She worked with Edwards on those videos.
Reporters asked Edwards about The ENQUIRER report during a campaign stop in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 11. Edwards responded: “The story is false. It’s completely untrue, ridiculous,” adding: “Anyone who knows me knows that I have been in love with the same woman for 30 plus years.”
Rielle issued her own statement through MyDD.com, a pro-Democratic Web site, saying: “The innuendos and lies that have appeared on the Internet and in the National Enquirer concerning John Edwards are not true, completely unfounded and ridiculous.
“My video production company was hired by the Edwards camp on a six-month contract, which we completed Dec. 31, 2006. When working for the Edwards camp, my conduct as well as the conduct of my entire team was completely professional.”
But what the rest of the press didn’t know is that when Rielle made that claim, she was pregnant, hiding it and had told her confidante it was Edwards’ baby.
That’s also when it was decided Rielle would relocate to North Carolina, said the source.
The ENQUIRER has confirmed that Young placed Rielle in a rental home in the Governors Club, the same gated community where he lives in a multimillion-dollar home with his wife Cheri and their young children. That home is owned by an Edwards’ backer and is less than five miles from Edwards’ national campaign headquarters in Chapel Hill, N.C.
A former “Director of Operations” for Edwards’ campaign, Young’s last official position with the campaign was “North Carolina Finance Director.” He left that job about a month ago – about the same time Rielle settled in Chapel Hill.
A source close to Young vehemently denies that he funneled campaign money to Rielle – who drives a BMW SUV registered in Young’s name.
The ENQUIRER spotted Rielle — visibly pregnant in a black sweater and loose-fitting slacks — leaving her OB/GYN’s office in Cary, N.C., on Dec. 12.
And when asked for a comment about her relationship with Edwards by an ENQUIRER reporter, Rielle responded: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Asked why she was living in Young’s gated community, she answered: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
When asked who fathered her baby, she answered: “I have no idea who you’re talking about or what you’re talking about.”
She even denied that she was Rielle Hunter!
But things changed dramatically when The ENQUIRER contacted Edwards for a comment just days later.
Edwards’ lawyer called The ENQUIRER and denied the well-coiffed Democratic candidate is the father of Rielle’s baby, adding that Rielle would deny it as well.
A day later, in a shocking twist, the attorney for Mr. Young issued a statement that Young fathered Rielle’s baby!
“Andrew Young is the father of Ms. Hunter’s unborn child,” declared his Washington, D.C.-based attorney.
“Sen. Edwards knew nothing about the relationship between these former co-workers, which began when they worked together in 2006.
“As a private citizen who no longer works for the campaign, Mr. Young asks that the media respect his privacy while he works to make amends with his family.”
Neither Young nor Rielle offered any evidence of their prior romantic relationship, and both turned down an ENQUIRER request to take polygraph tests on the claim that Young fathered her child.
Now some insiders wonder whether Young’s paternity claim is simply a cover-up to protect his longtime pal Edwards.
“If you have an alternate explanation for a scandal, you don’t take 24 hours to offer that explanation, let alone days or weeks,” a political insider told The ENQUIRER.
Simply put, Edwards could have nipped the earlier cheating scandal in the bud by instructing his aides to explain that Rielle had been romantically involved with a married man on the campaign. But he didn’t.
Instead, Rielle has been telling a confidante that Edwards is the father of her child.
“Rielle told me while Andrew Young is a friend, she’s not romantically involved with him,” says the source close to Rielle. “Rielle says he’s been responsible for finding her a place to live and even getting her a car to drive.
“If he really were the father of her baby and had engaged in an extramarital affair with her, I doubt seriously that he’d bring his wife and kids over to her house for dinner — which Rielle told me he did a few weeks ago.
“Rielle has said from the beginning that the baby is John’s, but she appears willing to do whatever they want her to do to protect his candidacy.
“I think what’s taking place is simply a cover-up by Edwards’ campaign.”
And no one has denied the source’s information that Rielle has been in phone contact with Edwards since finding out she is pregnant.
When ENQUIRER reporters contacted Young in person at his home on Dec. 12, he became furious — and denied he was Andrew Young.
He also denied knowing “any Rielle Hunter,” yelling at the top of his voice: “You don’t even know who I am!” But when his wife called him “Andrew,” he shot her a dirty look.
An enraged Young called police, demanding our reporters be arrested for trespassing. Officers from the Chatham County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Department responded, questioned everyone and made no arrests.
While controversy swirls around her, Rielle — a wannabe actress who by her own admission was a drug-using New York party girl in the ’80s — stayed in touch with Edwards.
“Rielle told me that she remains in phone contact with John, but can’t see him for obvious reasons,” said the source close to her.