A Labor Day picnic and concert will take place in St. Paul this year, but apparently without one of its headline speakers, former presidential candidate John Edwards, who has recently acknowledged a extra-marital affair with a former employee.
Edwards, a Democrat, was scheduled to speak at the "Take Back Labor Day Concert," on Harriet Island sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The event is scheduled on the same day that the Republican National Convention gets underway across the river at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.
Edwards said this month that he had lied when he denied having had an affair with Rielle Hunter, who was hired to produce videos for his presidential campaign.
Since then questions have surfaced about $14,000 that Edwards' political campaign committee paid to Hunter's company; an Edwards associate said the payment was for unused videotape that she shot.
"As far as I know, Edwards canceled all his public appearances for the foreseeable future," said Luchelle Stevens, political director for the SEIU Minnesota State Council. She said it means that he is "probably not coming" to St. Paul.
But she added, "This Labor Day festival was not built around John Edwards." She said the picnic will celebrate "workers' achievements" and promote "a new vision for the 21st century: affordable quality healthy care for everyone, wages that can support families, freedom to join unions without intimidation and retirement security as well."
Speakers at the picnic will include Andy Stern, international president of the SEIU; Anna Burger, the union's secretary treasurer, and Thom Hartmann, a liberal radio talk show host on the Air America Radio Network.
Scheduled musicians include Billy Bragg, Mos Def, Steve Earle, Lupe Fiasco, Allison Moorer and Tom Morello and Friends. Tickets are $10 through Ticketmaster but free to SEIU members.
Randy Furst • 612-673-7382