September 21, 2009 7:50 PM

LITIGATION DAILY: New Allegations About Fred Baron's Role in Edwards Deception

Posted by Ross Todd

This story was originally published by The Am Law Litigation Daily.

Update on 9/22/09 at 9:31 a.m. -- A statement provided by Andrew Baron after this story was first published has been added below.

The strange saga of John Edwards took another turn this weekend when The New York Times reported that the former Democratic presidential contender is preparing to admit that he fathered the child of Rielle Hunter, the woman with whom he'd previously admitted having an extramarital affair.

But the Litigation Daily is more interested in another allegation reported by the Times concerning Fred Baron, the late giant of the asbestos plaintiffs bar, whom we named our Litigator of the Week shortly before his death last October.

As our colleagues at The Am Law Daily reported, Baron admitted last year to paying the relocation expenses of Hunter and former Edwards's aide Andrew Young when they moved out of North Carolina and into million-dollar homes in California. Authorities are investigating whether benefits Hunter received from Baron, and from Rachel Mellon, an heiress to the Mellon fortune, violated campaign funding laws. (Hunter is represented by Michael Critchley of Critchley, Kinum & Vazquez in Rosedale, N.J.; Edwards is represented by criminal defense lawyer Wade Smith of Raleigh; and Mellon is represented by Alexander Forger of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.)

Before his death, Baron said in a statement that he paid Hunter and helped move her and Young on his own initiative, without informing Edwards. But the Times reports that, according to a book proposal by Young, Baron went "to great lengths" to help Edwards conceal his affair and his paternity of Hunter's daughter. Young's blockbuster allegation is that Edwards asked Baron if he could find a doctor who would falsify a DNA report.

On Monday The Litigation Daily reached out to members of Baron's family for comment. We left a message for his widow, Baron and Blue partner Lisa Blue, at her Dallas office, but she did not respond.
Baron's son, Andrew, provided this statement by e-mail:

I would not be bothered at all by anything Andrew Young said about my dad. According to the New York Times, Mr. Young signed an affidavit asserting that he was the father of Rielle Hunter’s child but then later renounced that statement, claiming that he knew all along that John Edwards was the child’s father. Meanwhile, Edwards claimed that he didn't have an affair, then later he claimed that he did. It's surprising to me that this kind of behavior is legal in politics.

If anyone ever wasn't on an ego trip, it was my dad. Ask anyone who really knew him and they will tell you he was one of the most selfless people on Earth. He believed in the beauty of democracy and was completely motivated by the ideals of the Democratic Party.

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