RALEIGH, N.C. — John Edwards' defunct presidential campaign has less than a month to pay back $2.1 million in public matching funds to the U.S. Treasury, according to a Federal Election Commission decision unsealed Friday that upheld the panel's earlier finding.
The commission batted aside a set of arguments made by lawyers representing Edwards. They contend that the money in question was properly used during the campaign, and that problems with the commission itself led to an incorrect finding that the former Democratic vice presidential nominee received more money than he was entitled to.
"After careful consideration, the commission determines that none of these arguments has merit," the commissioners wrote in the document, dated Tuesday.
Lawyers for Edwards' campaign committee maintain it was wrongly denied its full share of public funds during the campaign, but won't contest the commission's decision.
"While the committee disagrees with the commission's determination, it will not pursue this matter further," said Patricia Fiori, one of the lawyers representing Edwards' campaign committee in the case. "Doing so would involve the committee in a prolonged court challenge relating to a campaign that ended four years ago."
Edwards, who as Sen. John Kerry's running mate in 2004 narrowly lost that election to the Republican ticket, saw his political career collapse in 2008 after revelations of an extramarital affair with a campaign videographer.
The FEC case is separate from a pending criminal trial. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to charges of violating campaign finance laws in a bid to cover up that affair with Rielle Hunter, who later gave birth to Edwards' child.
Despite the campaign ending more than four years ago, it has continued to spend money, reporting $836,712 in 2011 expenses that went to airfare, hotel rooms and other bills.
During the year or so between when his campaign was registered with the FEC and when he bowed out of the race, Edwards received more than $12.8 million in public matching funds, which the commission determined in July was an overpayment of more than $2.1 million.
The Edwards campaign reported that it had roughly $2.1 million in cash as of the end of last year.