Fundamentalist Christian pastor and arch-conservative candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor E. W. Jackson has been less than honest about the hardships he claims to have suffered in childhood, say some people who were there. According to the Washington Post, Jackson’s tales of hunger and deprivation in the Chester, PA foster home headed by Willie and Rebecca Molet could well be a web of falsehoods and exaggerations.
His allegedly wretched upbringing forms the emotional core of Jackson’s stump speech. In the speech, he talks of “mayonnaise sandwiches” for dinner some nights and on other nights, he says, there was no food at all.
Jackson claims there was no indoor toilet and that as the youngest fosterling, he was left with the job of cleaning chamber-pots. He also claims that he was always last to use the bathwater in the house’s tin washtub.
Nadine Molet, one woman who shared the house with Jackson as a child, contests this version of events.
“I’m like, ‘What house was he in?’” she said to the Post. “I never remember missing a meal. We always had fatback, cornbread, pancakes. We always took a lot of food to church.”
Sundays were special at the Molet house, Nadine said, with lavish meals served on good china.
“We had a china closet with real china in it. The white people [foster mother Rebecca Molet] worked for gave it to us. That’s why I don’t know what he was talking about,” Molet said of Jackson.
Leola Brown, a neighbor who frequently looked after Molet and Jackson, said that just as in the house where she lived, the bathroom was right off the kitchen. She told the Post that she loved the banana puddings and fruited Jell-O molds that Jackson’s foster mother would make.
“They didn’t want for anything,” she said. “As we looked at it, they were the upscale family” in the neighborhood.
Campaign spokesperson Brian Marriott told the Post, “Nothing he’s saying about his childhood is untrue. Those were the conditions he experienced.”
Jackson’s campaign has been dogged by reports of staffing issues, missing money and personality clashes. The candidate’s tendency to shoot from the hip about his beliefs has led to a series of walked-back statements since the campaign began.