A campaign spokesman said Thursday that everything Jackson says on the trail about his upbringing is true.
Jackson says life was so tough with his impoverished foster family that they sometimes had to eat mayonnaise sandwiches for dinner. Other nights, there was no supper at all.
There was also no indoor bathroom, Jackson said, and as the youngest of the foster children, “I brought the pot down.” He was last in line for the once-a-week bath in a galvanized tub.
“I’m like, ‘What house was he in?’ ” said Nadine Molet, the adopted daughter of foster parents Willie and Rebecca Molet.
Nadine Molet shared the same roof with Jackson and said the bathroom was on the first floor, beyond the well-stocked kitchen. “I never remember missing a meal. We always had fatback, cornbread, pancakes. We always took a lot of food to church.”
Leola Brown, who lived in the unit next door and would come over to babysit Molet and Jackson, said, “They didn’t want for anything.” She remembers the banana pudding and fruited Jell-O she’d find there, and the bathroom, just as in her unit, was past the kitchen and “off to the right.”
Jackson declined requests for interviews. His campaign spokesman, Brian Marriott, said: “Nothing he’s saying about his childhood is untrue. Those were the conditions he experienced.”
After leading a struggling gospel-radio venture and facing bankruptcy in Massachusetts, then moving to Virginia and pursuing his vision of building a worldwide church, Jackson has spent much of the past three years trying his hand at a new career as a political candidate.
Jackson has faced repeated eruptions over his past and present rhetoric, including comments on gays and non-Christians. Democratic opponent Ralph Northam, a child neurologist and state senator from Norfolk, assailed Jackson for those comments and others, including Jackson’s contention that gay people’s “minds are perverted.”
According to interviews and records, Jackson has blurred the lines between his political and religious lives. Starting with his long-shot bid for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2011 and 2012, his political efforts have faced financial questions.
In his run for lieutenant governor and his Senate bid, members of his tiny Chesapeake church were hired for campaign work.
Chris D’Ambra, a former campaign aide, said fundraising and money problems were constant.
“The problem was, he just wasn’t 100 percent committed to all the intricate details to actually get to that next step — to actually being in public office,” D’Ambra said.