Inside Politics: Court allows Edwards to hire mistress’s lawyers

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GREENSBORO — Former presidential candidate John Edwards got his wish Thursday and is changing his defense team ahead of his criminal trial on charges of campaign finance violations, hiring the same attorneys who once helped his mistress in a lawsuit over the couple’s alleged sex tape.

The former U.S. senator from North Carolina testified under oath that he understood a jury might puzzle over the fact that lawyers Alan Duncan and Allison Van Laningham would be representing him after previously representing his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Mr. Edwards faces charges that he broke federal campaign finance laws, allegedly using nearly $1 million from two wealthy donors to hide the pregnant mistress and prevent a scandal from erupting as he campaigned for the White House in 2008. He has pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles told Mr. Edwards that shaking up his defense team was likely causing him stress, something the former senator’s doctor said, in a private letter to the judge, Mr. Edwards should avoid to protect his health. The judge asked Mr. Edwards whether he was taking any narcotics or other medications that might fog his judgment before trial.

FLORIDA

Unions to hold own political convention

ORLANDO — Union leaders upset that this summer’s Democratic National Convention will be held in right-to-work North Carolina plan to stage their own political gathering in a more union-friendly state.

Labor officials say the idea of holding a separate “labor summit” a few weeks ahead of the convention won wide support Wednesday at the AFL-CIO’s annual winter meeting.

Most unions are still planning to attend the Charlotte convention, but more than a dozen trade unions are boycotting it. They’re angry that Charlotte has no union hotels and North Carolina is the least unionized state in the nation. Some labor leaders consider the choice an affront to a core Democratic constituency.

Ed Hill, president of the Electrical Workers union, said members of Congress, governors and other elected officials would all be invited to attend the labor summit in a union-friendly city, possibly Philadelphia. The gathering would be held three or four weeks before the Democratic National Convention, which is set to begin Sept. 3.

“We’re going to talk about labor issues and how we can get our friends in the political arena to talk about labor issues,” Mr. Hill said.

Mr. Hill said unions still strongly support President Obama and don’t intend their summit to upstage his nominating convention. Mr. Hill’s union is among those not going to North Carolina convention.

SENATE

Democrats raise violence against women act

Senate Democrats are daring Republicans to vote against a bill that would protect women from violence, in the latest round of election-year battles for female voters.

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