Democratic fundraiser pens novel about sex, money and politics

Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:46pm EDT
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The antagonist in Bridget Siegel's debut novel, "Domestic Affairs," is a charismatic Southern politician who has an affair with a staffer while running in the Democratic primary for president.

But despite obvious parallels to the political soap opera that surrounded a real-life presidential aspirant, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, Siegel - a Democratic fundraiser turned novelist - insists the book is pure fiction.

"All the characters are composites of people I met over the years," said Siegel, who worked on the failed 2004 Democratic campaign when Edwards was on the vice presidential ticket. Still, she concedes: "It turns out the timing was great, between the Edwards trial and the elections."

Edwards, 59, has admitted he had an affair with his campaign videographer Rielle Hunter during the 2008 Democratic primary, which he lost to Barack Obama. In May, he was acquitted of a campaign finance charge after being accused of improperly funneling money from wealthy supporters to conceal the affair.

Siegel's novel, which she began writing about a year ago and was published this week by Weinstein Books, tells the story of Olivia Greenley, a national finance director who falls in love with her candidate, Landon Taylor, over expensive dinners with donors in Manhattan and The Hamptons.

Like Edwards, Taylor is a handsome statesman who speaks eloquently about American poverty, and whose political brand owes much to the appeal of his smart and charismatic wife.

Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, died in December 2010 after a long and public battle with cancer.

Siegel's decade in national politics began in 2000, when she worked on Hillary Clinton's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. Four years later, Siegel, who is 35, went to work for the Democratic National Committee, and she served as northeast finance director during the 2004 presidential race.   Continued...