The Rielle Hunter scandal: where did Andrew Young get his money?

by Ted Frank on August 13, 2008

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.

(August 14: Welcome Kaus and Instapundit readers. Post was corrected August 14, because it incorrectly said “Chapel Hill” instead of “Raleigh” as the location of the $1.2 million house.)

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?

{ 5 trackbacks }

Michelle Malkin » Playing house with Rielle
08.13.08 at 2:05 pm
Yet Another Rielle-Related Site Vanishes at Deceiver.com
08.13.08 at 10:23 pm
The Right To Bear Arms » I’m Sure It Was All Legit
08.14.08 at 10:09 am
Rielle Hunter scandal: update on the Andrew Young real estate issue
08.14.08 at 6:43 pm
The Rude News » Blog Archive » The Fall Of Democrats In ‘08
08.22.08 at 5:30 pm

{ 16 comments }

1 PatW 08.13.08 at 2:15 pm

Coupla things: The article states he bought the house in 2000. If realty records show 2005, that is strange.

He was drawing 3500/month from the campaign, but he was working for Edwards’ Senate office before that (since 1998). And perhaps simultaneously.

2 Ted Frank 08.13.08 at 4:29 pm

The realty records I saw show Young bought a smaller house in 2000, and moved to the larger one in 2005. The article says that Young was a low-level staffer for Edwards, and Hill salaries are for low-level staffers are not that high–though they are also public, so someone could check if they were so inclined. Young’s wife is a nurse, which could conceivably provide enough income between the two of them for a $300,000 house, but not a $1.2 million one, unless their parents are wealthy and support them.

3 cobb branch 08.13.08 at 6:58 pm

Why can’t I find any pictures of Andrew Young on they we the news or on the web??

4 jim 08.13.08 at 8:43 pm

I enjoy your columns. So, did I err when I commented that all this deserves a good ol’ tax audit? Seems my comment posted, and then was removed. No big deal either way.

5 emma 08.14.08 at 9:58 am

apparently andrew was getting hush money in the tune of $20,000/month (as he still is) from edwards/”baron” and THAT is how he paid for the mansion he was living in (at least 5000 square feet is a mansion to simpleton me). the money could have been straight cash dumped into andrew’s account as a “gift” so untaxable. now that kind of money pays for a huge house and a brand new suv. case closed.

6 Ed Romero 08.14.08 at 10:20 am

If he’d been working for Edwards’ Senate office and his campaign simultaneously, that would be a violation of the Hatch Act.

In any case, unless you’re a Chief of Staff, hill staffers don’t make much money at all. Campaign staffers tend to make even less.

All very bizarre.

7 Korla Pundit 08.14.08 at 10:29 am

I think these people are all a bunch of scum, but I don’t see anything unusual about the real esate profits. I bought a house in Brooklyn for about 300K and it is now worth almost 2 million. It was not that long ago. Prices have shot up.

If you want to do some more scientific snooping, check the comps on the place to see how out of line that price was for the area at the time.

8 JTT 08.14.08 at 12:00 pm

Paying hush money–or having a friend pay hush money–is almost certainly not required to be reported under existing campaign finance law. It is not an electioneering expense, nor is it an “in-kind contribution” when paid by a friend.

9 MBH 08.14.08 at 1:55 pm

a couple things: (1) the Youngs lived in Cary
(not Chapel Hill)and sold that house for $1.2
million according to the Wake County register
of deeds website.(2) according to the revenue
stamp amount, they bought that house for about
$450,000 on 7/21/2000 (3) so they owned the
house for lessthan 7 years, selling it on
3/27/07.

10 G$ 08.14.08 at 3:55 pm

Wow…this really smells bad! Everything about the whole situation reeks!

11 A 08.14.08 at 5:42 pm

I have lived in the Raleigh area for years, bought my house about the same time as Mr. Young, and my house has appreciated maybe 20% in the period his appreciated 300%. Real estate values around here have not gone up like they have in some of the rest of the country. (On the flip side, we’re not dealing with home values plummeting like they are in some places.)

I’m not going to link it directly, but you should know that all real estate information in Wake County is public record and freely available on the internet… a moment or two with Google and a search on the terms “search wake county real estate data” might be enlightening.

12 MBH 08.15.08 at 10:06 am

thanks for giving me no credit whatsoever in
your update on clearing up the specifics of
the Cary (not Raleigh) house that the Youngs
bought and sold. I don’t know where you got
your previous info but you should check your
facts. something is going on, but at least
get it right. it’s not hard to look these
things up and ask a question about revenue
stamps, etc.

13 zorrothefox 08.15.08 at 1:34 pm

PU! THIS STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN! As I’ve always said, keep following the money and you’re bound to find a plaintiff’s lawyer.

14 Uncle Mikey 08.15.08 at 2:01 pm

Zillow is unbelievably inaccurate and shouldn’t be used by anyone who wants a real value. I sold a condo for $220K and a year later Zillow showed the value at $160K, and there are hundreds of other examples in my city alone. Zillow is a joke.

15 Kerri 08.16.08 at 10:19 am

Andrew Young’s house, along with the OTHER houses in our nieghborhood, are ALL sellig for over $1million.
I bought mine for $180k 10 years ago, and it’s worth over $400k now. Andrew Youngs home in on LAKE FRONT property- Lake Wheeler- so get your shit straight.
http://services.wakegov.com/realestate/Account.asp?id=0172343&stype=addr&stnum=&stname=blaney+bluffs&locidList=&spg=1&cd=01&loc=7221++BLANEY+BLUFFS+LN&des=LO4+GREENVIEW+BLUFFS+SUB+BM1987%2D1932&pin=0780288810

P.S. The neighbor beside him is selling her home for close to $2.5 million. Houses 1 mile down the street start at $4million

16 REL 02.07.09 at 3:09 am

I think you should get your shit straight buddy before posting it.
That house is gorgeous and its got a LAKEFRONT VIEW!! along with a basketball court and brand spanken new pool .. im a close relative and i think you look your shit up the right way, instead of pulling this out of your ass.

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