Edwards defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in North Carolina's 1998 Senate election. Towards the end of his single six-year term, he sought the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2004 presidential election. He eventually became the 2004 Democratic candidate for vice president, the running mate of presidential nominee Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Following Kerry's loss to incumbent President George W. Bush, Edwards began working full-time at the One America Committee, a political action committee he established in 2001, and was appointed director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. He was also a consultant for Fortress Investment Group LLC.
A North Carolina grand jury indicted Edwards in 2011 on six felony charges of violating multiple federal campaign contribution laws to cover up an extramarital affair to which he admitted following his 2008 campaign. Edwards was found not guilty on one count, and the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining five charges, as the jury was unable to come to an agreement. The Justice Department dropped the remaining charges and did not attempt to retry Edwards.
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