From the mass of teabagginess that is North Carolina (new state motto: Not as Crazy as South Carolina – But We’re Trying!) comes the Shakesperean saga of state Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Natch). Meredith is quite the catch for his district encompassing Cumberland County, assuming it’s still 1952 there. The good senator is infamous for a 2010 campaign ad that seemed to imply his female opponent was a prostitute, and he appeared in yr Wonkette once before when he went on the record to say the state should “regulate” marriage to keep it out of the hands of those icky gays and in the Biblically-approved realm of “one man, one woman.” Which is ironic considering the trouble Meredith’s ex-wife is causing him in his re-election campaign right now.
This week Meredith’s Democratic opponent, Billy Richardson, accused the senator of collecting Medicaid benefits for his then-newborn son back in 1996 and 1997, despite the fact that Meredith had a (barely) six-figure income at the time. Richardson even has the documents, including copies of tax returns and Medicaid cards, to back up his story.
Needless to say, Meredith, who is leading by 14 points in the latest polls, denies the allegations.
In an interview on Sept. 18 with the [Fayetteville] Observer, Wesley Meredith said he had no memory of doing anything to put his son on Medicaid, such as signing an application or taking any other steps.
“No, I don’t recall anything like that, no,” Meredith said.
Pressed on the question, he said: “Well it’s been two decades ago – I mean, I can’t remember what I ate yesterday – but I mean, you’re asking me about a very specific time and a very specific place and I don’t recall that, no.”
He also said that he had no idea what his income was in that period.
“It was early in my business,” he said. “I mean I was very early in my business. I don’t recall.”
Meredith said his marriage was failing in 1996. He said he and his wife slept in separate bedrooms and rarely communicated. They separated in November 1996, not long after their son’s birth in September.
Basically, he doesn’t recall and anyway his marriage was failing and who knows what shenanigans to defraud the state of North Carolina his wife might have gotten up to while caring for their newborn child? Women, right fellas?
But sure, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t defraud the state of North Carolina. Would that mean his ex-wife had to apply for Medicaid because her husband, having separated from her, was not providing medical insurance or adequate funds to pay for medical care for his infant son? Oh, that would make him look so much better!
The Cumberland County Republican Party on Wednesday went with the latter theory, issuing a statement blasting Meredith for “financially abandon[ing] his wife and child,” before later deleting the post. Maybe because later that same day, Meredith’s ex-wife put out a statement that said, naw mang, he didn’t financially abandon me, we signed up for Medicaid together!
State Sen. Wesley Meredith of Fayetteville and the woman who was then his wife, Beth Longbottom Meredith, went to the county Department of Social Services together in 1996 and applied for welfare benefits for which they may not have been eligible, Beth Meredith said.
“Wesley and I went to DSS and applied for Medicaid,” Beth Meredith said in a statement sent to the Observer on Wednesday afternoon. Medicaid is the government’s health-insurance program for the poor.
“I did not become aware of any potential wrongdoing until my domestic attorney later brought it to my attention many years ago,” she said.
So either the ex-wife is lying about not knowing she was committing fraud, or she was so out of the loop on family finances that she believed, despite the fact that they owned a nice house in a nice neighborhood, that they were poor enough to qualify for Medicaid and food stamps.
If nothing else, this explains why Meredith voted against the Medicaid expansion that North Carolina was eligible for through Obamacare. He knew from personal experience how easy it would be for other residents of the state to defraud the program. When you think about it, doesn’t that make Wesley Meredith sort of a hero?