Politics & Government

Birth certificate of child linked to Edwards lists no father

John Edwards.
John Edwards. Chuck Kennedy / MCT

WASHINGTON — The birth certificate of a child whom a tabloid newspaper claims is linked to former Sen. John Edwards doesn't identify a father.

The document, obtained through a routine records request, shows Frances Quinn Hunter was born Feb. 27 to Rielle Hunter, a videographer who worked on Edwards' presidential campaign last year.

But the space for the name of the father is blank, even though the child was born more than two months after Hunter identified Andrew Young, Edwards' campaign finance director, as the father of her then unborn child. Young claimed paternity in a statement from his lawyer posted on the political blog mydd.com.

The National Enquirer first claimed last October, while Edwards was considered a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, that he had had a sexual relationship with Hunter, and in December reported that she was pregnant. Edwards denied the allegation last fall.

But Edwards has said little about the allegations since the Enquirer reported last week that Edwards had visited Hunter and the child at a Beverly Hills hotel and then was confronted by its reporters as he was leaving in the middle of the night. The newspaper claimed that Edwards ran and hid in a restroom to elude its reporters.

Edwards withdrew from the presidential race in January, but remained a major figure in the presidential contest throughout the primary contest as analysts tried to guess which candidate, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, he would endorse. He unveiled his support for Obama May 14 at a major rally in Michigan that was televised nationally.

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, was expected to play a major supporting role as Obama tries to win North Carolina and become the first Democrat to have done so since 1976.

The Enquirer allegations, if unresolved, are likely to hurt Edwards' ability to participate in the presidential campaign. They've been the subject of heated commentary on the Internet and have become fodder for jokes by late-night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, raising questions about his prospects for a spot in an Obama administration.

At a July 23 speech in Houston, Edwards responded to a reporter's question about the Enquirer story by referring to it as "tabloid trash."

On Wednesday, Edwards declined to answer questions about the allegations.

About a dozen reporters and photojournalists attended a speech Edwards gave to an AARP Foundation symposium on poverty and aging in Washington.

Afterward, he avoided waiting reporters, exiting through a side area used by the kitchen staff at Washington's historic Hotel Monaco.

Edwards emerged near the rear of the hotel with two men. When approached by a reporter, Edwards said, "Can't do it now, I'm sorry" and quickly walked past.

Asked about the Beverly Hilton, Edwards said "sorry" and got into a waiting car with the other men. Asked twice more to address the Enquirer story, Edwards was silent until the car doors closed.

McClatchy obtained the birth certificate through a routine public records request to the Santa Barbara County Recorder's Office, which provided an "informational copy" for a fee of $17. A certified copy, which can be used to establish identity for legal transactions, is available only to family members and government agencies.

Asked Thursday why no father was listed on the birth certificate, Hunter's attorney, Robert Gordon of New York, said, "A lot of women do that."

Reminded that he and Hunter had publicly revealed the father's identity two months earlier to the National Enquirer, Gordon said, "That's a personal matter between them."

Gordon declined to comment further.

The certificate shows that the girl was born at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif., to Rielle Jaya James Druck, also known as Rielle Hunter. Hunter, 44, was a videographer on Edwards' presidential campaign last year.

With unmarried couples, California state law requires both parents to sign a "Declaration of Paternity" form prior to the father's name being put on the birth certificate. If the father is not present, his name may be added to the birth certificate at a later date after proper forms are obtained from the Department of Vital Records.

The Enquirer first alleged in October that Edwards had had a sexual relationship with a woman hired to create a documentary about him. A December story in the Enquirer claimed she was pregnant and living in a gated community in Chapel Hill, not far from Young and his family.

That story said:

"In a statement issued to The Enquirer through her attorney, Rielle said: 'The fact that I am expecting a child is my personal and private business. This has no relationship to nor does it involve John Edwards in any way. Andrew Young is the father of my unborn child.' "

Young was a fund-raiser for Edwards' campaign. Federal Election Commission records show he was earning about $3,200 every two weeks before he left the campaign last fall. In 2004, Edwards included Young and his wife in a list of people whose contributions he acknowledged in his book "Four Trials."

A December statement attributed to Young’s Washington attorney, Pamela J. Marple, said, "As confirmed by Ms. Hunter, Andrew Young is the father of her unborn child. Senator Edwards knew nothing about the relationship between these former co-workers, which began when they worked together in 2006. As a private citizen who no longer works for the campaign, Mr. Young asks that the media respect his privacy while he works to make amends with his family."

Marple didn't return phone calls seeking comment Thursday, and Young could not be located for comment.

Edwards, who met his wife Elizabeth in law school, denied the story in October.

"It's completely untrue, ridiculous," he said. "I've been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years and, as anybody who's been around us knows, she's an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story's just false."

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