Politics & Government

Birth certificate doesn't clarify paternity

No father is listed on the birth certificate of a child who a tabloid newspaper claims is linked to former Sen. John Edwards.

The document doesn't help to clear up repeated allegations by the National Enquirer that the N.C. Democrat had a sexual relationship, and later a baby, with Rielle Hunter, who had been hired last year by Edwards' presidential campaign.

The certificate, obtained by The Charlotte Observer on Thursday, shows Frances Quinn Hunter was born Feb. 27, more than two months after an Edwards aide claimed to be the father. Andrew Young, a former Edwards campaign finance director, claimed paternity in a December statement from his lawyer, posted at the political blog mydd.com.

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.

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.

With unmarried couples, California 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.'”

A statement attributed to Young's Washington attorney Pamela J. Marple said at the time, “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 calls seeking comment Thursday. Young, who lived in Chapel Hill at the time, was a fundraiser for Edwards' campaign. Federal Election Commission records show he was earning about $3,200 every two weeks before he left the campaign last fall.

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.”

The Enquirer alleged in a story last week that Edwards visited Hunter and the child at a Beverly Hills hotel, and then was confronted by its reporters as he left in the middle of the night. The newspaper hasn't published any photos of the alleged encounter.

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

About a dozen reporters and photojournalists attended a speech he gave to an AARP Foundation symposium on poverty and aging in Washington. Afterward, he avoided waiting reporters, at least some of whom wanted to ask him about the Enquirer reports.

He apparently exited 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 Charlotte Observer 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 were closed.

The Enquirer described in its story its reporters' attempts to chase down Edwards at the hotel last week. The tabloid reported Edwards ran and hid in a restroom to elude them.

The story has prompted buzz in the blogosphere and 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.

But Edwards has said little about the allegations. At a July 23 speech in Houston, he responded to a reporter's question about the Enquirer story by calling it “tabloid trash.”

Lorenzo Perez of the (Raleigh) News & Observer and Observer researchers Marion Paynter and Maria David contributed.
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