Why was it brought as a long and costly criminal case rather than as a civil matter for the Federal Election Commission?

George Holding, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina and now a Republican candidate for Congress, initiated the investigation more than three years ago. He acted after reports surfaced that Edwards had used money from two supporters to hide his pregnant mistress during his run for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

Near the end of the probe, the Edwards defense team and federal prosecutors discussed a plea deal that fell apart in the 11th hour. The government then had to choose between turning the case over to the FEC for a civil review, or proceed with a criminal prosecution. The latter was chosen…

From the start there were allegations from the Edwards camp that he was a victim of political score settling. Holding, a Republican from Raleigh who announced his candidacy for a U.S. congressional seat from the 13th District just weeks after Edwards’ indictment, rode herd over a case that ultimately was tried in a different district from his own.