In October 2007, The National Enquirer began a series of reports alleging an adulterous affair between Edwards and former campaign worker Rielle Hunter. By July 2008, several news media outlets speculated that Edwards' chances for the Vice Presidency as well as other positions such as the Attorney General were harmed by the allegations, which now included that he fathered a child with Hunter and had visited her and the baby girl at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. However, the story was not widely covered by the press for some time, until, after initially denying the allegations, Edwards admitted the affair. On January 21, 2010, John Edwards issued a press release to admit that he fathered Hunter's child.
In an August 8, 2008, statement, and an interview with Bob Woodruff of ABC News, Edwards admitted the affair with Hunter in 2006, but denied being the father of her child. He acknowledged that he had been dishonest in denying the entire Enquirer story, admitting that some of it was true, but said that the affair ended long before the time of the child's conception. He further said he was willing to take a paternity test, but Hunter responded that she would not be party to a DNA test "now or in the future". Initially, campaign aide Andrew Young claimed that he, not Edwards, was the child's father. Young has since renounced that statement, and told publishers in a book proposal that Edwards knew all along that he was the childâ€™s father; Young alleged that Edwards pleaded with him to accept responsibility falsely.
In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, Young claims to have set up private meetings between Edwards and Hunter. He wrote that Edwards once calmed an anxious Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band. ABC News reports that Young stated that Edwards asked him to "Get a doctor to fake the DNA results...and to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this [was] indeed his child." On February 2, 2010, Young released a book detailing the affair.
In May 2009, newspapers reported that Edwards' campaign was being investigated for conversion of campaign money to personal use related to the affair. Edwards said that the campaign was complying with the inquiry. The relevant US attorney refused to comment. In the same month, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News reported that members of Edwards' staff had told him that they had planned a "doomsday strategy" to derail Edwards' campaign if he got close to the nomination. Joe Trippi, a senior advisor to the campaign, said the report was "complete bullshit". In August 2009, Rielle Hunter appeared before the grand jury investigating this matter. On March 15, 2010, Rielle broke her silence during an interview with GQ magazine and provided new details about the affair. In March 2011, voicemail messages allegedly left by John Edwards were obtained, which Young says prove Edwards arranged the cover up of his affair with Hunter.
Edwards had a sex tape surface in early 2010. The tape depicts Edwards having sex with his mistress Rielle Hunter, reportedly while Hunter was pregnant with their love child. The tape was discovered by former Edwards aide Andrew Young among a box of personal items left at his home by Hunter. On 5 February 2010, Judge Abraham Penn Jones ordered the tape must be turned over to the court as part of a case to determine if hush money paid to Hunter by Edwards' 2008 Presidential Campaign constituted a violation of campaign finance laws.