Baron says he was 'shocked' by Edwards' affair

Chris Rizo Aug. 13, 2008, 10:54am

Fred Baron

John Edwards (D)

DALLAS (Legal Newsline)- Famed Dallas trial lawyer Fred Baron, who admitted to unwittingly paying John Edwards' former mistress, says he has experienced a "whole bag of emotions" since the former Democratic presidential hopeful revealed he had an extra-marital affair.

On Aug. 8, Edwards admitted that he "made a serious error in judgment" in 2006 and had a "liaison with another woman."

In an interview with Texas Lawyer magazine, Baron, a widely known plaintiffs' attorney who made a fortune for himself by representing plaintiffs in asbestos exposure lawsuits, said Edwards' trysts in 2006 with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter were a "very, very stupid, bad thing."

Baron, who served as Edwards' presidential campaign finance chairman,
said he did not learn of Edwards' affair with Hunter until about three weeks ago. He said he "shocked" when Edwards told him he had cheated on his wife Elizabeth.

Baron has admitted to paying Hunter to leave Chapel Hill, N.C., because she was being hounded by the National Enquirer over her suspected involvement with the former North Carolina senator.

"It was just a horrible, horrible situation," Baron was quoted by the magazine as saying. "I paid for them to relocate to another home in another state."

Baron told Texas Lawyer he paid for several months of rent on a house in Santa Barbara, Calif., without informing Edwards.

"I never discussed it with John. He was on the campaign trail in Iowa at the time," he said.

Baron claims he paid Hunter directly, using his own money and not campaign funds. Although he declined to say how much he paid Hunter, Baron said reports that he paid $15,000 a month are untrue.

Earlier this week, Texans for Lawsuit Reform Chairman and CEO Dick Weekley took aim at Baron, saying his role in the Edwards' scandal reflects an "appalling disregard for honesty and integrity."

"We may never know how much money Fred Baron spent to cover up the story of John Edwards' affair, but covering-up is nothing new for the asbestos lawsuit king," Weekley said.

"Baron routinely makes huge campaign contributions to groups with names like 'Texas Values' and 'Public Justice' to hide the truth from voters -- that the funding comes from the wealth he acquired as a personal injury trial lawyer," Weekley added.

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