What would you do if your boss began to do questionable, maybe even criminal, things? Would your paycheck be at the top of your mind or would you call the authorities? What if you worked for a politician and you knew he or she was doing something wrong. Would you speak out?
Such was the dilemma for an impressionable young man named Andrew Young who worked for former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. While he believed passionately in his boss's political message, he allowed his loyalty to temporarily blind him. Young admits he did things for Edwards which he now regrets. Some of those things came to the attention of a federal grand jury investigating how Senator Edwards spent campaign money and Young was called to testify.
After dutifully serving the Senator for more than a decade Young has written a book that not only tears back the covers on a flagrantly unfaithful John Edwards it also shines a white hot light on the type of candidate often attracted to our nation's top offices: arrogant, devoid of character and supremely charming.
Young's book, "The Politician" reveals the ugly truth about how presidential politics works, especially how campaign fundraising - both on and off the books - drenches a candidate in so much money it's almost simple for them to spend it on things they shouldn't.
In Edward's case it appears he spent plenty on his mistress and their baby.
Young says he wrote the book to clear his reputation and to make up for two years of unemployment. During that time, he says, John and Elizabeth Edwards sabotaged his job opportunities, blamed him for their strained marriage and John's failed 2008 presidential bid.
The truth? John Edwards never had a chance in the race for the White House. He ran a deeply flawed and distracted campaign. As a wealthy man he lacked credibility when he preached about "the two Americas," the poor vs. the rich. He was eliminated in the primaries.
Now we know what diverted the Senator's attention. Young's book reveals a torrid affair Edwards was conducting with a staffer named Rielle Hunter. Young participated in keeping the steamy secret, hiding a pregnant Hunter from the media (and Elizabeth) by moving her to various clandestine locations. Remarkably, Young and his devoted wife, Cheri, even caved to the Senator's request for Andrew to claim paternity of the baby.
Among the book's most fascinating claims is how the Senator used government paid aides to do so many personal tasks. Washington staffers were once used, Young writes, to load furniture and personal items into a truck he drove to North Carolina. Elizabeth often gave Young lengthy lists of chores like helping to build and furnish the Edward's new mansion, buying their children's Christmas presents or changing light bulbs in the Edward's beach house. And Young was expected to make sure there was always chilled Chardonnay in the pick-up vehicle for the Senator to sip.
As for funding "Operation Hide Hunter" Young's book details how massive amounts of cash, travel and housing from wealthy donors was used to keep Mistress Rielle in credit cards and luxury residences. Evidently, Edwards didn't pay a personal penny toward that. His cancer stricken wife Elizabeth, reportedly, kept too close a watch on their personal accounts for that to happen.
There are many layers to this saga, including how Elizabeth bought the false story of Young being the baby's father and the savage campaign she waged against the Youngs. She left several chilling voice mails for Cheri. "This is not Andrew's first woman..... We wash our hands of this filth."
Now that John has copped to paternity Elizabeth has kicked him to the curb. She's not apologized to the Youngs.
And then there's the sex video Rielle made with the Senator and carelessly left behind with Young and his family.
Backed by a team of high-priced lawyers Rielle recently went to court to get Young to relinquish the video and other incriminating evidence she'd abandoned. He did so but as I watched the proceedings it became clear Hunter's lawyers are out to destroy Andrew Young. They branded him a liar and demanded he be charged with perjury. The judge refused.
I'd like to know who is paying the unemployed Rielle Hunter's considerable lawyer's fees. I suspect the money trail might lead to either John or Elizabeth Edwards. They may be angry at each other but they are surely over-the-top furious with the embarrassing secrets spilled in "The Politician." The book spells the end to Edwards' political career.
As for whistleblower Andrew Young? This preacher's son may have come to the table of full disclosure late but he's there, sitting tall, showing us how the game of national politics can become twisted and repulsive. We should pay attention to what this impressive man tells us.
I'm sure that federal grand jury did and I can't wait to hear its verdict.