Bunny Mellon Had a Hankering for John Edwards, Too

Another day of the John Edwards' campaign finance trial, another tale of unrequited love.

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John Edwards, while currently disgraced and on trial facing allegations of campaign finance violations, was a fairly popular guy back in the day. Not only was Andrew Young "in love" with him in a very special kind of bromance, Edwards also "coped" with the affections of his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and his wife, Elizabeth Edwards. Not to mention those of Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, the now 101-year-old heiress who unknowingly supplied the donations that kept Hunter in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed (so she wouldn't spill the beans about the affair). We already knew that Mellon, who is now blind, defended Edwards' fancy haircuts and even offered to pay for them. She also, according to testimony at the trial from a close friend, interior decorator Bryan Huffman, "had a huge crush on him." Per The New York Post's Tara Palmeri:

The now 101-year-old millionaire was “euphoric” whenever Edwards arrived at her farmhouse to flirt and hustle her for cash, said Bryan Huffman, an interior designer who became one of her closest confidants.

“She liked how he looked, what he espoused and what good he could do for the country,” Huffman told the Greensboro, NC, federal jury, echoing other witnesses who said Mellon had been in love with Edwards since meeting him in 2004, when she was still a spry 94.

Huffman, for his part, helped funnel money from Mellon to Young, money that would go to Hunter. The scheme involved labeling those checks as if they were antique furniture purchases. According to The Associated Press:

Bryan Huffman described, for example, receiving a $100,000 check from now-101-year-old heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon with "Antique Charleston Table and Chairs" written in the memo line. It was part of an elaborate ruse to hide $725,000 intended for Edwards from the Mellon family's money managers by sending checks to the designer, who endorsed the checks and sent them to a fundraiser for Edwards' 2008 campaign.

Remember, this trial is about money and rules. The crush, however, puts it in the context of something we can relate to, something a little more scintillating, which is why we've gotten a lot of talk of love and betrayal and mistresses and loyal or angry wives throughout this trial, as opposed to more dull talk of breaking the rules. But the testimony from Huffman also serves to disabuse us of the notion that Mellon was swindled, or tricked, into donating so much money to Edwards, though Huffman makes the point that she thought her contributions were going to campaign expenses and that she really wanted Edwards to become president.
Also, according to Huffman, this was all really good for her, again per The Post
“The campaign gave [Mellon] a wonderful focus and something to hold on to,” Huffman said. Every phone call from Edwards “always made her extremely happy.”

However, Bunny didn't much cotton to Elizabeth. Mellon told Newsweek's Meryl Gordon back in July, "'You know that John had a hard time with Elizabeth.'" Gordon continued, "Mellon’s lawyer Alex Forger elaborates further on his client’s attitude: 'She was not enamored of his wife and didn’t want his wife to know that he was getting money.'” (In that same story, Mellon's grandson Thomas Lloyd describes his grandmother's relationship with Edwards as "a crush.")

So, did anyone not have a crush on John Edwards? And what, exactly, is it—was it—about this guy? Come forth or forever hold your peace. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.