After days of headline sabbatical, there's more on the Mommy Madam case. And finally, we get a name. A big one, though, perhaps, not big enough. DNAinfo's Murray Weiss writes that a call girl working for the alleged madam, Anna Gristina, who remains in Rikers on charges of promoting prostitution, told investigators in the Manhattan DA's office she was paid to have sex with John Edwards -- that John Edwards -- in 2007. That's "when he was in New York raising money for his failed presidential bid." My, my. Edwards' lawyers did not respond to DNAinfo's request for comment. But, according to Weiss, who obtained the information from sources, we learn:
The one-night fling allegedly took place at an Upper East Side hotel suite and was arranged by an aide with help from a New Yorker familiar with Gristina’s prostitution ring, sources said.
How did the call girl know she was sleeping with the onetime presidential candidate? According to the prostitute who claimed to have had sex with him, who reportedly provided details to investigators in the DA's office back in 2008 when they started to look into Gristina's "business": Edwards was recognizable as a politician. Simple enough.
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Edwards is the first big name we've gotten in allegations of Gristina's prostitution ring, and it's definitely an interesting tidbit, if one that would have been more exciting before the National Enquirer broke the story about Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter, before Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer, and before Edwards was facing a federal trial in North Carolina for "allegedly using nearly $1 million in campaign donations to cover up an affair he had during that same campaign season with Hunter." (Edwards also owes the government $2.1 million that his campaign was overpaid in matching federal funds.) Back in those innocent days of 2007, the news of Edwards' alleged hookup with a call girl might have shocked us. Now it's sort of, well, not that big a deal. Certainly not terribly surprising. It is somewhat surprising that at that time, feds were not notified of the encounter as it was considered "a low-level local infraction," writes Weiss. On a side note, per this timeline of the major events in the Edwards/Hunter scandal, Edwards met Rielle Hunter back in 2006, before his alleged sex with one of Gristina's girls. And, Hunter was pregnant in 2007 (her daughter was born in February of 2008). The man had a lot on his plate.
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Given all the scandal that's enveloped him since, and the fact that Edwards does not appear to have been a repeat client of Gristina's, his name might be something of a gimme; it's definitely no Eliot Spitzer takedown situation. Frankly, it's a little too late for Edwards to be ruined by this. Weiss writes, "At the time, investigators were shocked at the allegation because Edwards was then considered the All-American persona." Remember those days?
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The more interesting question is, will more names come out now? Weiss has a few more hints:
Sources told DNAinfo that the “Millionaire Madam’s” list of patrons shelling out thousands of dollars for weekend getaways includes: a Middle Eastern sheik, an international billionaire financier, a nightclub impresario, dozens of Wall Street hedge fund and investment bankers, and a network of lawyers — all of which are burning up phone lines trying to find out if their names could surface.
Update: Edwards' attorneys have denied the claim.