Rielle Hunter, whose love child with former U.S. Senator John Edwards cost him a shot at the presidency in 2008, is the target of a lawsuit in her new hometown of Wellington, Florida.
Hunter, 53, is accused of ignoring a mounting veterinarian tab for the care of their daughter’s famous pony, Howie.
Howie was a character in the children’s book that Hunter and daughter Frances wrote last year. But an equine care clinic that also caters to show jumping and polo horses owned by the celebrity families of A-listers like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, rocker Bruce Springsteen and actor Tommy Lee Jones wants Hunter to pony up $2,590.99.
Hunter is reportedly receiving child support from Edwards, 63, who quit politics to work at a law firm that bears his name in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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But Hunter’s tardiness paying her bills to the Palm Beach Equine Clinic started about the time the former actress and Edwards officially broke up, and within months of Hunter and daughter Frances moving into a $518,000 house Edwards bought for them in the fancy gated community of Palm Beach Polo & Country Club.
Their trusted companion Howie, meanwhile, was showcased both in illustrations and photos in a book mother and daughter co-authored last year, “Howie Do It: Finding Happiness Now.”
According to the bills filed in the court case, Howie might have caused the small family to run up a debt.
He was diagnosed with lameness, or an improper stand, last summer. The bills show a veterinarian visited Hunter’s horse in a barn near her house four to five times a month between August and November 2016, when the clinic cut her off.
By then, she had racked up more than $3,600 in bills. She eventually paid it down by $1,000 but then stopped paying, the complaint asserts.
Hunter isn’t returning calls for comment, and Edwards was away from his law firm during Easter weekend.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic lawyer Craig Galle said clients rarely stiff their vets.
“My client is not shy about pursuing collection matters in the rare instances where a client does not pay,” he said, not naming Hunter by name. “It is beyond reasonable to expect to be paid for services rendered.”
Hunter became a household name in 2008 when her secret affair with then-Democratic Party presidential front-runner Edwards blew up into a full-fledged scandal. She had been hired to make a documentary about Edwards’ campaign. But in addition to filming, the two met for sex behind the back of Edwards’ dying wife, Elizabeth.
Edwards refused to admit publicly he fathered Frances and even asked a campaign staffer named Andrew Young to say the baby was his.
In time, Edwards was indicted for using campaign funds to hide the affair. He was acquitted of one count, and a mistrial was declared on the others.
Hunter and Edwards broke up in 2015.