Rielle Hunter

Rielle Hunter Biography.com

(1964–)
Rielle Hunter made national headlines for her relationship with married senator and aspiring presidential candidate John Edwards in 2007.

Synopsis

Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Rielle Hunter spent some of the 1980s in New York City. She then lived in Los Angeles and married Alexander M. Hunter III. The couple divorced in 2000. She started a spiritual website called beingisfree.com in 2004. Hunter began her relationship with presidential hopeful John Edwards in 2006. She had their daughter, Frances Quinn, in 2008. In 2012, Hunter published her memoir about their relationship.

Early Life

Born Lisa Jo Druck, Rielle Hunter came into the national spotlight for her affair with presidential hopeful John Edwards in 2007. His campaign's efforts to hide their relationship and the child they had together led to a criminal probe of Edwards.

Few details are known about Hunter's life before Edwards. In the 1980s, she lived life in the fast line in New York City. Hunter had a brief relationship with writer Jay McInerney, then known as Lisa. She and her party girl lifestyle inspired his novel Story of My Life (1988). "It was narrated in the first person from the point of view of an ostensibly jaded, cocaine-addled, sexually voracious 20-year-old who was, shall we say, inspired by Lisa," McInerney told Breathe magazine.

Hunter eventually moved to Los Angeles and there she met lawyer Alexander M. Hunter III. The pair married in 1991, and she gave herself a new first name "Rielle" a few years later. Hunter appears to have worked in entertainment, appearing in a play called Savage in Limbo, according to a report in People magazine. She also wrote a number of scripts, but only one of them was ever produced. According to the Internet Movie Database, Hunter is the writer, producer and a performer in the 2000 short film Billy Bob and Them. Around this time, she and her husband divorced.

Becoming spiritually minded over the years, Hunter began to share her interests with others. She created a website, beingisfree.org, in 2004. Two years later, Hunter started a video production company called Midline Groove with a partner.

Relationship with John Edwards

Hunter met married politician John Edwards in February 2006. According to several reports, one of the first things she said to Edwards was "you're so hot." The pair soon developed a secret relationship, one they tried to hide from the press and Edwards's wife Elizabeth. A few months later, Hunter signed on to work on Edwards's presidential campaign as a videographer. Her job was to create "webisodes" about the candidate for his website.

In mid-2007, Hunter discovered that she was pregnant with Edwards's child. The National Inquirer ran a story that October, stating that Edwards was having an affair. Edwards quickly denied in the claim. In December, the National Inquirer printed another article—this time exposing Hunter's pregnancy and claiming that Edwards was the father of her baby. Andrew Young, one of Edwards's aides, stepped into the fray, saying that he was the father of Hunter's baby, not Edwards. Still the scandal took its toll on Edwards, and he dropped out of the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in early 2008.

After becoming a tabloid sensation, Hunter spent months hiding out with Young, Young's wife and their family in different locations. In February 2008, she gave birth to daughter Frances Quinn Hunter in Santa Barbara, California. No father is listed on the child's birth certificate. She eventually parted ways with the Youngs, and later ended up suing the Youngs over a sex tape of her and Edwards that was in their possession.

Now on her own, Hunter had some financial support from Edwards supporter Fred Baron. "It was never hush money," Hunter later explained to The New York Times. That July, the National Inquirer published an item about Edwards visiting Hunter and her daughter at a Los Angeles hotel. Edwards finally acknowledged the affair the following month, but he still denied paternity of Hunter's child.

Federal investigators began examining how some of Edwards's campaign funds were used. In August 2009, Hunter testified in front of a grand jury in North Carolina about money given to her production company. More sordid details of her affair with Edwards came to light that December with the publication of Andrew Young's book on the Edwards campaign, entitled The Politician. Hunter later told GQ that "I'll say this about Andrew's book: If his grand-jury testimony matches his book, I would suspect that they will be looking at him for many, many counts of perjury."

In 2010, Edwards finally admitted to being Frances Quinn's father. He said, in a statement, that "It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter, and, hopefully, one day, when she understands, she will forgive me," according to ABC News. That April, Hunter gave a revealing interview to GQ, which was accompanied by some racy photos of her. She was then caught in a media backlash over the images. Hunter allegedly was looking to stir up trouble. As she explained to The New York Times, ''What I was thinking was, I would like to have one sexy shot where the world can see me as—as a beautiful woman, as opposed to all those photos that are out there of me looking like some Wicked Witch of the West, the ugliest thing you could ever imagine.''

Around this time, Hunter also gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey. She told the popular television personality that she didn't break up Edwards's marriage. "It’s not my experience that a third party can wreck a home. A home is wrecked before a third party comes into the picture," she said. Hunter explained that she wanted to help Edwards to find his "authentic self."

Edwards went on trial in 2012 on charges connected to the possible misuse of campaign funds for expenses related to Hunter. In May, he was found not guilty on one count and the remaining five counts were declared to be a mistrial. Hunter made headlines that June with the publication of her memoir, What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me. She told People magazine that she and Edwards "are still a couple," and he visits his daughter regularly.

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