Two witnesses with a wealth of knowledge about campaign finance laws testified in the John Edwards trial Monday that the $900,000 at the heart of the case went to personal expenses for the candidate – and therefore should not be subject to public reporting or campaign finance caps. The jury heard from one of the witnesses – a former Edwards campaign treasurer. But the other, a former Federal Election Commission chairman, testified outside the presence of the jury. The judge limited what he can say if he’s called to the stand later in front of jurors. The Edwards defense team began calling witnesses Monday as the trial entered its fourth week. In comparison to the first three weeks, which featured salacious details about Edwards’ extramarital affair with former campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, the first defense witnesses focused more on campaign finance and policy. On Tuesday, Cate Edwards, the 30-year-old daughter of the one-time Democratic presidential hopeful, is on the list of possible witnesses. A Harvard law school graduate who’s married now, living in Washington, D.C. and running her late mother’s foundation, Cate Edwards has been in the courtroom for most of the testimony. She occasionally leans in to discuss legal points with her father. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell said at the close of the day Monday that no decision has been made on whether Edwards will take the stand in his defense. Lowell said he will let the judge know Tuesday or Wednesday.
Judge Catherine Eagles dealt the defense a blow Monday when she severely restricted what Scott Thomas, a former Federal Election Commission chairman, could talk about if he faces the jury. Thomas, who put in 37 years with the government agency that oversees campaign finance compliance and the issues related to it, took the stand Monday after the judge sent the jury home for the day. In a legal proceeding that must take place outside the jury’s presence, Thomas offered a glimpse of what he might say if called to testify. “These are intensely personal by their very nature,” Thomas said of the $900,000 in payments used to support Hunter when she was pregnant with Edwards’ child, who is now 4.