Update: See important update below. The Toben-Young transaction appears to be for a different parcel of land than the $1.2 million house–but the new documents reveal something else that’s interesting. More details below.
Andrew Young, who publicly claims to be the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby (though he hasn’t been heard from since John Edwards’s confession of an affair), was moved to Santa Barbara by the generosity of John Edwards’s campaign chairman, trial lawyer Fred Baron. He was paid $3,500/month to work for the Edwards campaign. Yet the Raleigh News & Observer reports that Andrew Young and his wife sold their Raleigh house to Carolyn Grissom for a jaw-dropping $1.2 million on February 14, 2007, and moved into the Chapel Hill Governors Club country-club gated community, where they rented a few doors down from Hunter. (Rentals there are available for as low as $1700/month, and home prices range from $289,000 to $2.3 million, so nothing necessarily unusual about that.)
(Update: New documents I’ve found show that the Toben-Young transaction appears to be for a different parcel of land than the $1.2 million house. More details below. This paragraph, based on the mistaken reading of the transaction that it was for the Raleigh home, is incorrect. I regret the error, but the correction reveals something else interesting about the Toben transaction; see the discussion below.) What’s more unusual is that North Carolina real-estate records on the web show that Andrew and Cheri Young purchased the 5000-square-foot house for $300,000 on September 28, 2005. (Update: this is incorrect. The house was purchased in 2001.) (The home was built in 1989, so they weren’t buying a vacant lot and building.) So either Andrew Young is a secret real-estate genius on a level not seen since Hillary Clinton’s commodities trading, and was able to flip a house for a 300% and $900,000 return in under eighteen months, or something else is going on.
It’s interesting to note that the Youngs purchased the place from North Carolina real-estate developer Timothy Toben–a long-time North Carolina Democratic fundraiser who donated $6,500 to the Edwards campaign in 2007 (which, if the FEC reports are accurate, exceeds the federal campaign limits substantially). If Toben gave Young an unusually good deal, the 2005 timing suggests that Young got the deal for some reason other than Rielle Hunter, but, if so, what?
Meanwhile, if one looks up the home on Zillow.com, one sees that Zillow is skeptical of the $1.2 million purchase price, and values the house for substantially less (though well over $300,000), because of “anomalies” in the deal, though it does not specify what those anomalies are. (I found no indication that Carolyn Grissom is anything other than an innocent homebuyer; she’s not listed in the FEC database.)
This could all be coincidence in hindsight, and there could be a perfectly innocent explanation for all of this. It could be that the $300,000 figure is wrong, though then that raises the question of how Young was able to afford a 5000-square-foot house on a $42,000/year salary. But reporters with more resources than I might want to look into whether an Edwards staffer was getting a sweetheart deal from an Edwards contributor, why, and whether campaign finance laws were violated.
And welcome Michelle Malkin readers; apologies that so many of you clicked through that you briefly crashed the site. For Overlawyered’s coverage of the Rielle Hunter scandal, see the tag, and don’t miss our years-long coverage of John Edwards and his trial-lawyer record.
Update, August 14: I did some additional digging, and I’ve found some additional documents that show that, while Young lived at the Raleigh address, the $300,000 transaction between him and Toben was for a parcel of land (which I believe from Orange County records to be the Lot 4 ten-acre tract in this map) in Orange County, North Carolina, rather than for the Raleigh, North Carolina home. The Raleigh home appears to have been purchased in 2001 for an unknown price (though the excise tax on the deed suggests the price was $450,000). I regret the unintentional error stemming from my misreading of this record:
Parcel Number ? 9850347826
Book ? 3885
Page ? 257
Name Owner : YOUNG, ANDREW CHERI
Owner Address: [address deleted], RALEIGH NC 27606?9019, WAKE COUNTY
Sale Date ? 09/28/2005
Sale Price ? $300,000
Name of Seller : TOBEN TIMOTHY P
Loan Amount ? $272,700
Loan Type ? CONVENTIONAL
A 2001-2007 run-up in price in the Raleigh home is not dramatically unusual; Young’s timing in getting out at the top of the housing bubble in February 2007 was impeccable, and Ms. Grissom appears to have overpaid relative to what some similar houses in the area sold for, but a lot of people were overpaying for houses in early 2007. (That said, I’d like to know why Zillow is so suspicious about the purchase price.)
That’s not to say there’s nothing interesting about the Toben transaction: note that Young purchased the Conservation Ridge property in Orange County with a $272,700 mortgage in 2005 and paid off the mortgage in full on October 17, 2007–just three weeks after insinuations about Rielle Hunter were in the Huffington Post (and Overlawyered), and one week after the October 10 National Enquirer story first alleged an affair. Of course, that could be a coincidence. What led Young to choose that week to pay off a mortgage?