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POLITICS: Campaigns

Virginia candidate E.W. Jackson admits past money problems, drug use

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Politics,Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Campaigns

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia, Chesapeake pastor E.W. Jackson, admitted Wednesday to past financial problems, including a bankruptcy and a slew of unpaid taxes in Massachusetts and Virginia.

Jackson, in his first press conference since winning his party's nomination in May, sought to explain a 30-year history of money problems first reported by The Washington Examiner. And he went on in the tell-all appearance to acknowledge that he habitually smoked marijuana and took other, harder drugs when he was young.

Jackson said he wanted to clear the air about his past and explain controversial opinions he shared in writings and radio interviews, including his calling homosexuality "perverse," likening Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and linking yoga to Satan.

"I do not believe that birth defects are caused by parents' sin," Jackson said, disavowing some of those past statements. "I do not believe that yoga leads to Satanism."

Jackson said his money troubles were the result of a decadelong effort to rescue a bankrupt R&B radio station in Boston during the 1980s and '90s. He served as the station's counsel and later took over as general manager and converted it into a gospel station.

To keep the station afloat, Jackson said he had to put all bank loans in his own name, ultimately forcing him to declare bankruptcy after fighting 10 years to regain the station's federal broadcasting license. A related 1985 federal tax lien was the result of unpaid payroll taxes, he said.

Jackson called that period of his life "embarrassing" but portrayed his efforts as a fight against government regulation of the airwaves.

"My honor means a lot to me. I don't like the idea of not being able to pay off debts," Jackson said. "Part of [the decision to declare bankruptcy] was the harassment from my wife over debts that were due."

Jackson also was sued in 2007, while living in Chesapeake, for failing to pay rent for his strip mall church, Exodus Faith Ministries, and was forced to pay a $6,700 settlement. He said he was in a dispute with the city over whether the church could operate in the mall.

Jackson again portrayed it as a fight against government overreach.

Jackson voluntarily divulged that he smoked marijuana regularly and used harder drugs.

"As a young man, like anybody else, I experimented," Jackson said. "I don't remember exactly what [drugs] they were."

Jackson, the running mate of Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli, insists the revelations will not bounce him from the race against state Sen. Ralph Northam, the Norfolk Democrat nominated for lieutenant governor in Tuesday's primary.

"Nobody has tried to push me out," Jackson said. "And they couldn't even if they tried."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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