GREENSBORO, N.C. – Another former close aide to John Edwards testified Thursday about bungled efforts to keep the former presidential candidate’s affair hidden from staff members, including an awkward encounter when she showed up at a hotel months after her work filming Edwards had ended.
For months in 2006, John Davis said that staff members had been concerned that the woman hired as a videographer was becoming too close to Edwards. For example, while other staff members called him “Senator Edwards,” Rielle Hunter called him “Johnny” or “John,” Davis said.
“Rielle is a very unique personality,” Davis said. “Everyone else on the team had a political background. Rielle didn’t have that sort of resume. She talked a lot about meditation and yogis”
Davis, who traveled with Edwards in 2006 and 2007 as a body man, is one of several former aides who have testified about their suspicion or knowledge of the affair during Edwards’ campaign finance corruption trial. At issue is money from wealthy donors that was used in an attempt to keep the candidate’s affair with Hunter out of public view.
Edwards’ attorneys have said he didn’t know about the money. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts related to campaign-finance violations. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.
Rielle’s contract with the staff wasn’t renewed at the end of 2006, but Davis hadn’t seen the last of her. He testified that in February 2007, he ran into her in an elevator at the candidate’s Detroit hotel.
“We exchanged brief pleasantries. I would have preferred not to have seen her,” he said.
When he saw that she pushed the button for Edwards’ floor – where Davis also had his room – he stopped on another floor just so he could get into a different elevator car. Shortly after, he was on the phone with his wife to express his shock at seeing Hunter. He heard a knock at the door of his room. It was the mistress, who came in to talk.
“She told me that she and Sen. Edwards were very much in love. And that he was concerned that I had seen her,” Davis said.
The next day, Edwards called Davis into his room and denied that he was having an affair with Hunter.
“He told me she was crazy and that we should make sure she didn’t talk to him,” Davis said, adding that he was satisfied with his boss’s explanation.
But not long after, a change was made in hotel arrangements that struck Davis as odd. Davis said he’d always stayed in a room close to the candidate, but that the staff began staying on a different floor than the candidate during trips.
“Mr. Edwards suggested maybe a little separation would be good,” he said.
During a trip in September of 2007, Davis said he went to Edwards’ hotel room to retrieve a cell phone that the candidate had borrowed from him. When he got to the room he could hear what sounded like a speakerphone conversation through the door, and he was able to discern both Edwards and Hunter’s voices.
“I heard him ask Rielle if she was showing yet,” Davis said. She would later have Edwards’ child.