It seems that the Department of Justice is interested in more than just the funding that kept Rielle Hunter quiet during the presidential campaign of John Edwards.  The Daily Beast’s Diane Dimond reports that more than 20 subpoenas have been issued in the investigation of Edwards’ campaign finances, far more than were involved in handling Hunter.  The flurry of subpoenas also shows that the Department of Justice has decided that there is substantial reason to continue:

My sources confirm that Holding’s investigators, having reconstructed how they believe former Edwards’ Senate staffer Andrew Young bankrolled hiding the pregnant Hunter for his boss, took their findings to Washington. Given the national scope and political sensitivity, they determined that the top dogs at the U.S. Justice Department should decide whether to continue targeting the former presidential candidate. By all accounts, including sources close to the case that I spoke with, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s team realized there was enough “there” there to keep the Edwards case active. The Justice Department not only approved the investigation should continue, full steam ahead, but also ordered the latest round of subpoenas.

The sheer number of subpoenas is a telling clue. According to former Edwards staffers who wish to remain anonymous, there were far fewer than 20 people in the loop about how Edwards funded his “Hide Hunter” scheme. Furthermore, those in the inner circle of confidants—including Chief of Staff Miles Lackey; Jonathan Price who, according the sources, “handled all things Rielle;” and Nick Baldick and Alexis Barr, who possessed the check-writing ability connected to Edwards’ nonprofit groups—are believed to have already testified before the grand jury. So these subpoenas seem to indicate that the feds are looking beyond questions surrounding how Hunter got money.

The next clue comes via a source who is familiar with the inner workings of the case and who has been close to Edwards for years. This person tells me that these newly subpoenaed witnesses are primarily Washington, D.C.-based. That hints at the possibility that prosecutors might be looking past the presidential campaign itself and toward how Edwards’ operated his former Senate office—and perhaps even to the actions of Edwards’ estranged and cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth.

That won’t be good news for Edwards at all, who has mostly remained quiet since the scandals broke in 2008.  This will thrust him back into the spotlight, just at a moment when Democrats can least afford it.  They are already taking fire on all sides over policy and scandal, and given that Edwards ran on the national ticket in 2004 and contended in the top tier for the nomination in 2008, this is an association they can ill afford.

The question to ask is how many of those in the money circles are still working with the Democrats in 2010.  After all, Edwards was a mainstream Democrat with powerful connections to the usual Democratic-supporting institutions, especially unions.  This could have a far-reaching impact not in 2010 (unless the testimony results in indictments in the next couple of weeks), but in 2012 when Barack Obama needs to tap into them.  The “Washington DC-based” witnesses may have connections to Edwards’ Senate activities, but it’s also important to note that Edwards didn’t actually spend all that much time as a Senator.  Like Obama, he spent most of his single term running for the Presidency.