So what shame does Edwards deserve? Edwards has already publicly acknowledged he had an affair in 2006 with Rielle. Obviously, the public humiliation and the effect on his family is real punishment. While morality may be an issue, no laws were broken. Edwards denied any knowledge of the payments by Fred Baron to Rielle. (If the $14,000 payment to Rielle came from Edwards' OneAmerica political action committee fund, those expenditures would be governed by U.S. election laws. Knowingly converting money from a political action committee for personal use could be wrong but to date there is no such evidence. Furthermore, the $14,000 paid to Rielle Hunter could be legitimate compensation for the 100 hours of videotape excerpts that were not part of four short Web videos she had produced in 2006. One can not jump to the conclusion that the political action committee was paying Rielle to be quiet about the affair. The compensation may have been totally appropriate and legal.)
On August 8, 2008, Edwards publicly explained that he ended the affair and confessed to his wife Elizabeth in 2006. While Hunter appeared at campaign events in the final days of December, that does not mean that the affair continued. Rielle was reportedly present at his formal campaign announcement in New Orleans. Edwards and Hunter spent time together in 2006, traveling the world and the country but that does not necessarily mean that the affair continued.
Baron has explained that no campaign funds were used to make any illegal payments. Hunter apparently was not working for the campaign when Baron started giving her money. John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards were apparently not aware that Baron was sending the funds. Condone Senator Edward's morals if you like, but don't accuse him of crimes that have not been committed.
Update 5-14-2012: How about this instead? Rielle Hunter's employment not only cost Senator Edwards the Vice Presidential candidacy, he is now on trial with a possibility of serving jail time. How could this all come to pass? Well, despite Hunter's lack of film making experience, she secured a $250,000 contract to make a series of behind-the-scenes documentaries from the campaign trail. While Edwards' aides criticized her work as unprofessional, the job gave Hunter a reason to travel with the candidate while his wife was home in North Carolina fighting breast cancer. When Elizabeth Edwards learned of the affair, Hunter lost her job. But Edwards and his mistress continued to meet on the campaign trail. In the summer of 2007, Rielle became pregnant.
As Hunter's belly grew, so did the maliciousness of the tabloid reporters. Hunter tried to hide in North Carolina by moving in with one of Edwards' most loyal aides, Andrew Young. Within weeks, the Youngs set up Hunter in a $2,700-a-month rental home not far from the Edwards estate. As Edward's child became a reality so did charges for improper use of campaign funds. Now, Edwards is involved in the trial of the century.
Update 5-31-2012: John Edwards has been found not guilty on count 3 in the trial on whether the 2008 presidential candidate violated campaign finance laws. The judge has declared a mistrial on the remaining five counts. This means Edwards was found not guilty on the charge involving the contributions from Mellon.