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Election commission rules Edwards must pay back $2.3 million

By Eric Fiegel, CNN
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FEC: Edwards owes $2.3M
  • An FEC audit showed Edwards' campaign exceeded its matching funds
  • The commission ruled he must pay back $2.3 million
  • The matter is separate from a criminal case proceeding against Edwards

Washington (CNN) -- Former Presidential candidate John Edwards will have to pay back over 2 million dollars in federal matching funds given to his 2008 campaign for president, the Federal Election Commission ruled on Thursday.

The commission voted 6 - 0 against Edwards and contends his campaign was in "excess of the Candidate's entitlement."

"At the end of the day if there were more matching funds received than campaign obligations at the point when the campaign ended you have to make a repayment, " Ellen Weintraub, FEC Commissioner said during the hearing.

This latest ruling comes on the heels of Edwards' indictment last month when a federal grand jury charged him with six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws

That indictment was brought up Thursday by FEC Commissioner Donald McGahn who called it "the pink elephant in the room." McGahn then asked other members of the Commission how a guilty verdict might impact Edwards' finance filings and force him to amend what the campaign spent. His trial is scheduled to start in October.

"This gets a little confusing, this has not come up like this before," FEC Commissioner Donald McGahn said during the hearing.

The FEC determined that Edwards had received just over 2.1 million dollars in matching funds after the campaign was winding down and Edwards was no longer in the race. The commission decided that in total his campaign must pay back $2,278,315 in excess matching funds.

According to the FEC, "Presidential candidates receive federal government funds to pay for the valid expenses of their political campaigns in both the primary and general elections."

Edwards was represented at the hearing by his lawyers who filed this response to the audit. "John Edwards for President did not receive any matching funds in excess of its entitlement, and hence, no repayment is due," they countered.

Edwards' presidential campaign committee says it has $2.6 million in cash-on-hand as of June 30, 2011. It is unclear whether Edwards will use this money to pay back the US Government or if he will seek an appeal, his attorneys left the hearing without comment.