WASHINGTON — The birth certificate of a child whom a tabloid newspaper claims was fathered by former Democratic senator John Edwards of North Carolina doesn't identify the child's father.
The document, obtained through a routine records request, shows that Frances Quinn Hunter was born last 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, although 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 that was posted on the political blog mydd.com.
Edwards withdrew from the presidential race in January, but he remained a major figure in the presidential contest throughout the primary season as analysts tried to guess whether he'd endorse Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. He unveiled his support for Obama on May 14 at a nationally televised rally in Michigan.
Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, was expected to play a major supporting role in the general election as Obama tries to win North Carolina, which no Democratic presidential candidate has done since 1976.
The National Enquirer first claimed that Edwards had a sexual relationship with Hunter last October, when he was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Edwards flatly denied the allegation. In December, the tabloid newspaper reported that she was pregnant.
The Enquirer's allegations, if unresolved, are likely to hurt Edwards's 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 Edwards' prospects for a possible post in an Obama administration.
McClatchy obtained the birth certificate Thursday 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 identified her child's father two months earlier to the National Enquirer, Gordon said, "That's a personal matter between them."
He declined to comment further.
The birth 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 before the father's name is put on the birth certificate. If the father isn't present, his name may be added to the birth certificate later, after proper forms are obtained from the Department of Vital Records.
The Enquirer last week said 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.
At a July 23 speech in Houston, Edwards responded to a reporter's question about the Enquirer story by calling it "tabloid trash."
On Wednesday, Edwards declined to answer questions about the allegations.
About a dozen reporters and photojournalists attended a speech that Edwards gave to an AARP Foundation symposium in Washington on poverty and aging. Afterward, he avoided 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 a reporter approached him, Edwards said, "Can't do it now, I'm sorry" and quickly walked past.
Asked about the reported late night episode at 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.
The Enquirer first alleged last October that Edwards had had a sexual relationship with a woman who'd been hired to create a documentary about him. A December story in the Enquirer claimed that she was pregnant and living in a gated community in Chapel Hill, N.C. 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, who lived in Chapel Hill at the time with his wife and children, was a fund-raiser for Edwards' campaign. According to Federal Election Commission records, he was earning about $3,200 every two weeks before he left the Edwards 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 couldn't 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."