The Federal Election Commission (FEC) determined on Thursday that John Edwards, former 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, owes the government $2.3 million.
The report found that his committee campaign, John Edwards for President (JEFP), received matching funds more than Edwards was entitled to as a candidate, falsely reported its cash-on-hand balance by $100,000, did not itemize loan repayments equaling more than $4 million, and outdated at least 128 checks totaling $141,808.
Matching funds refers to the $3 a taxpayer checks off on their tax forms, authorizing a $3 donation.
The FEC voted 6-0 to order the repayment. However, Edwards’ counsel has already filed objections and may come back to dispute the order.
"I think at this point I can support the audit report but keep an open mind if they come back, which is their right," said Commissioner Donald McGahn.
"To me, I don't like micromanaging campaigns. I don't think that's my job, but it's taxpayer money. We don't make the rules, we just try and make it work here.”
Edwards is objecting to the order for various reasons. He claims that a portion of the money that is in question, more than $500,000, was received before the date of ineligibility began. Therefore, it should be considered a “qualified campaign expense” to compensate the staff, according to Reuters.
FEC audits are required of presidential candidates who accept public money for their campaigns. The audit determines if a candidate is eligible for funds received and whether the funds were used properly.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six charges relating to illegal campaign contributions, making false statements, and conspiracy. Edwards may stand trial as early as October. According to recent campaign finance reports, he has about $2.6 million left in his 2008 presidential campaign fund.
This is the latest in legal battles for the former presidential contender. He was indicted on June 3 for allegedly misusing $1 million in illegal campaign funds to help cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter, one of his campaign workers. He fathered a child with Hunter.