Net Worth: $54.7 million
Where he got it
Most of Edwards' wealth comes from awards won as a medical malpractice and personal-injury attorney.
After his 2004 run for Vice President, he joined Fortress Investment Group, a $40 billion manager of hedge funds and private equity, as a part-time consultant - for an annual salary of $480,000 (plus profit sharing).
Edwards has since resigned, but Fortress has continued its generosity. Its employees have donated $190,000 in this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The hedge fund industry is itself looking for continued generosity from the government: the ability of managers to pay taxes on carried interest - that is, profits on investments - as though they were capital gains (taxed at 15 percent) and not ordinary income (taxed at 35 percent).
But Edwards says they won't get a break from him. He wants the loophole closed and says that would save taxpayers $12 billion.
Where it goes
Edwards has $24 million - or about 40 percent - of his fortune in alternative investments, mostly Fortress-owned companies or pooled funds. In 2006 he even sold a $4 million stock portfolio he owned with his wife, Elizabeth, to put more into Fortress.
Investments in hedge funds and private equity, however, are risky and illiquid. Hedge fund investors usually have to agree to lock in for a specified number of years.
Such investments may also pay little or no current income - although Edwards in 2006 reaped about $2.1 million from them. The balance of the Edwards' portfolios is in bonds issued by North Carolina counties.
How he could do better
No more than 10 percent of the Edwards' net worth should be in alternative investments, says planner Roth: "Fortress is $40 billion, but that's a pretty small part of the $51 trillion global market to concentrate in."
Roth also points out that such investments typically carry stiff management fees - 2 percent of assets and 20 percent of any gain. He suggests that Edwards pare his hedge fund holdings as soon as he can.
If he becomes President, he should put the money in index funds to avoid conflicts of interest.