Andrew Young

The Politician

Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Young

For Cheri, always


Having never written a book before or, more specifically, a page of acknowledgments, I looked at a number of other books to help me decide what to write here. It seems a normal note of acknowledgment represents a nod of thanks to those who endured the author’s long hours of research and an expression of gratitude for those who have been supportive during the writing process. That is not what I intend here.

Every single person mentioned on this page deserves more thanks than I can ever give because they were loyal to me and my family at a time when the national media descended upon us and many negative things were being said about me. Many “friends” turned their backs on us, but the people listed here gave us unconditional love through two years of hell, and unending inquiries from press, friends, and neighbors.

To Cheri, Brody, Gracie, and Coop, you are everything. I have always said I would kick the devil in the teeth for each of you, and I hope this book accomplishes a bit of that.

To my dad, who passed away while I was writing this book, may God bless you and keep you. Thank you for everything, and I will talk to you always.

To my mom, I love you so much and I am so sorry that the storm that overwhelmed my life came while Warren was dying. Thank you for always being there for us.

To my mother-?in-?law, Susie, and my father-?in-?law, Roger, I am so sorry I put you and your daughter through this hell. I can’t make it right but I will try to give her the best life I can.

To my stepmother, Virginia, and her family, thank you for everything, and I love you.

To my sister Sherri, her husband, Dean, their son, Dustin, my sister Terri, my brother, Rob, and his wife, Julie, thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you so much. Let’s all work to keep our family together.

To Cheri’s sister, Deana, her husband, Dale, and their children, Arielle, Cali, Mackenzie, and Camden, your love and support carried Cheri and me through so much. We deeply love you.

To Cheri’s brother, Roger, you are a brother to me. Thank you for everything.

To Glenn Sturm, thank you for jumping into the foxhole with me when no one in your world would. You are one of the best people I know, and I love you. I would not have survived this without you.

To Leo Hindery and Jim Heavner, thank you for your advice and friendship.

To my brother-?in-?law Joe Von Kallist, you saved me and my family. I will never forget it.

To Tim Toben, I love you, brother. And I love Megan and your family like my own.

To David Geneson, much thanks. You enable the little people to have a say against the big people.

To Bryan Huffman and Bunny Mellon, you are incredible.

To Heather and Jed McGraw, only the two of you understand the depth of this book-thank you. Congratulations on Nannytucket, and best of luck in everything you do.

To the folks at St. Martin’s, Tom Dunne, Karyn Marcus, and my new dear friend John Murphy, thank you for helping create this work. I wanted to write something that would help my kids to someday understand why I did what I did, right or wrong, and I think we accomplished that.

I would like to thank the FBI agents, IRS agents, and the officers of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina for treating us fairly and professionally.

To the Edwards and Anania families, with the exception of John and Elizabeth, thank you for many years of friendship.

Thank you to Mark and Amy Friedman, Dave Badger, Kerri Drury (an angel to our kids), Claudia Kelsey, Greg Pruitt and his family, Uncle Perry, Sarah B., Melissa Geertsma, Bill and Susan Walser, the Sartor family, and the folks we didn’t even know in California who took us in.

There are two other people whom I cannot thank by name, but thank you and I love you.

This journey has taught me to appreciate what I already had, the few people who love me unconditionally. I love each of you more than you will ever know. I was hurt by the many people who turned away, but I was blessed by you who stood by me.

The person who can give us a sense of hope is the one who knows the human condition and can encourage us to face the realities of life.

– From a sermon by my father,

Reverend Robert T. Young


Late on a spring afternoon, the soft Carolina sunlight filtering through the pines around our house reminds me of why I have always loved my corner of the world. The great universities in Raleigh-?Durham and Chapel Hill draw extraordinary people from around the world, but like us natives, most of them stay, at least in part, because of the quiet, natural beauty. There is no better place to make a home, raise a family, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I thought about this as my wife, Cheri, packed some snacks-juice, apples, Goldfish crackers-into a cooler and I helped our eight-?year-?old son, Brody, pull on his Yankees uniform and find his mitt. It was time for the last game of the 2009 season, and he was excited.

Along with Cheri, Brody, and me, the crew in our minivan included our six-?year-?old daughter, Gracie, our four-?year-?old son, Cooper, and Tugger, the new chocolate Lab puppy. As we drove down the winding dirt lane that cuts through thick woods to the main road, Brody talked about whether his team would beat the Mariners and remain undefeated. Gracie and Cooper anticipated finding other children to play with on the sidelines. Cheri and I wondered whether we would meet, face-?to-?face, the former friend and boss who had betrayed my devotion and trust-given freely for more than a decade-and then made our existence a living nightmare.

Halfway to the ball field we passed the Bethel Hickory Grove Baptist Church, where the man in question had married his wife, Elizabeth. I knew the story as well as anyone. She showed up carrying a soda pop. He gave her a ring that cost eleven dollars. They had a one-?night honeymoon in Williamsburg, Virginia, and then quickly settled into a life built around their law practices and then their children. In those early years, Elizabeth, who had grown up in Japan as a navy brat, was the sophisticated one and he was the diamond in the rough. She bought his clothes, coached him on his courtroom presence, and advised him on how to navigate the social scene.

We reached the end of the road and turned left onto Highway 54 and then left again at the park entrance. On one side of the lane, a few people walked dogs in a specially fenced area. On the other side, a couple of kids hacked away on a tennis court. My throat tightened a bit as we approached the baseball field and I saw kids and parents clustered on the bleachers and near the backstop.

It was an all-?American scene-kids in baseball uniforms, families gathered on the grass, fireflies flashing in the air. But as any team parent knows, social intrigue often lurks beneath the Norman Rockwell surface. Real life comes with pettiness and gossip that can make people feel uncomfortable. In our case, the idle and mean-?spirited talk wasn’t about some neighborhood dispute or a run-?of-? the-?mill extramarital affair. Oh no. We had been caught up in one of the seamiest national political scandals in recent history. And just about everyone in the country, if not the world, believed they knew enough to judge us in the harshest terms.

I had hoped that the man at the center of the story would have had the sense to stay home. But as we parked I saw his familiar silverouamiliarr Chrysler Pacifica, which I had helped him purchase. (I was startled to see that the rear bumper of the car, usually plastered with half a dozen campaign stickers, was bare.) Cheri and I braced ourselves emotionally as we got the kids out of the car seats. When we closed the van doors and walked toward the diamond, it felt as if every head turned toward us. Every head, that is, except one.

Out on the field was the man who had once promised me the brightest future I could imagine and then abandoned me to national disgrace, hiding behind his sunglasses, talking on his cell phone and chatting with the boys on the Mariners team, including his own son Jack. The players, with big ball gloves on their hands, seemed as cute as floppy-?eared puppy dogs as they chased pop flies and grounders. My former friend, who beamed at them with his world-?famous smile, looked like America ’s Father of the Year, an award he actually won in 2007.

We joined the Yankees sideline, where everyone except the kids felt the tension. Cheri and I sat alone, ignored as the other parents chatted. As the innings passed, we marveled at the way our old friend and his wife-two people who had been as close as family-refused to even look in our direction. Once we would have hugged as we said hello and then spent the entire game side by side, laughing and talking. Half the people at the park would have wandered by just to say hello. A few would have asked for favors, which were granted with a simple “Call Andrew and he’ll take care of it.” And I would.

This time there were no hugs and no jokes, and no one came to ask either of us for anything. Jack and his sister Emma Claire, who used to play with our kids, looked at Cheri with confusion in their eyes. We had no idea what their parents had told them about us. We overheard one of the mothers in the crowd whisper something about “the Youngs.”

When the game ended with our guys a few runs behind (so much for an undefeated season), my old friend, boss, and mentor walked the long way to his car so he could avoid us and everyone else. While other parents were still collecting empty juice boxes and tired little ballplayers, he and his family were halfway to their home. It was the last time I would ever see my former boss, John Edwards-once one of the most powerful politicians in the world. But it was hardly the last time I would be forced to deal with the shame, distress, and anguish that came out of my own dedicated effort to help him become president of the United States.

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