Mark Meadows (North Carolina politician)

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Mark Meadows
Mark Meadows, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Chair of the House Freedom Caucus
In office
January 3, 2017 – October 1, 2019
Preceded byJim Jordan
Succeeded byAndy Biggs
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byHeath Shuler
Personal details
Mark Randall Meadows

(1959-07-28) July 28, 1959 (age 60)
Verdun, France
Political partyRepublican
Debbie Meadows (m. 1979)
EducationFlorida State University
University of South Florida (AA)
WebsiteHouse website

Mark Randall Meadows (born July 28, 1959) is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative for North Carolina's 11th congressional district since 2013. A member of the Republican Party, he chaired the Freedom Caucus from 2017 to 2019. He is considered one of President Donald Trump's closest allies in Congress.[1]

Early life, education, and business career[edit]

Meadows was born at a United States Army hospital in Verdun, France, where his father was serving in the Army and his mother, worked as a civilian nurse. His mother was from Sevierville, Tennessee, and his father from Pineville, Arkansas.

He grew up in Brandon, Florida, and described his upbringing as "poor".[2] He has said he was a "fat nerd" who went on a diet after a classmate rejected him for a date.[2] Meadows attended Florida State University for one year in 1977–78.[2] In 1980 he graduated from the University of South Florida with an Associate of Arts. In 1987 Meadows started "Aunt D's", a small restaurant in Highlands, North Carolina. He later sold it and used the proceeds to start a real estate development company in the Tampa, Florida, area.[3]

While living in Highlands, Meadows served as chairman of the Republican Party in Macon County, and was a delegate to several state and national Republican conventions.[4]

Meadows previously served on North Carolina's Board for Economic Development in Western North Carolina.[5] In 2011 he moved to Glenville, North Carolina. In 2016 he sold his house and moved into an apartment in Biltmore Park, a mixed-use community in Asheville, NC, while deciding where to buy next in either Henderson or Buncombe counties.[6] He is the owner of Highlands Properties, which specializes in construction and land development.[7]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

In late 2011 Meadows announced he was running for Congress in North Carolina's 11th congressional district, for the seat being vacated by Democratic incumbent Heath Shuler. The district had been significantly altered in redistricting. New lines were drawn straight through the middle of Warren Wilson College. Notably, it lost most of Asheville to the 10th district, while picking up some heavily Republican territory in the foothills. The old 11th had a slight Republican lean, but the new 11th was on paper the most Republican district in the state.[8] In 2011 the North Carolina state legislature redrew the congressional districts based on updated population information from the 2010 census.[9] As a result the district is now 91.2% White, 3.0% Black, 1.4% Native American and 1.0% Asian.[9] District 11 now includes Buncombe (Asheville), Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Haywood (Waynesville), Henderson (Hendersonville), Jackson (Sylva), Macon (Franklin), McDowell (Marion), Madison, Polk, Swain, Transylvania (Brevard) and Yancey (Burnsville) counties.[10][Notes 1]

Meadows won the July 2012 Republican primary runoff,[11] and in the November general election faced Democratic nominee Hayden Rogers, who had been Shuler's chief of staff. On August 28 Meadows spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.[12] He won the general election with approximately 57% of the vote[13] and took office in January 2013.


Meadows has signed the Contract from America, a set of ten policies assembled by the Tea Party movement.[14][15]

Meadows voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy[16] along with a group of other Republicans who cited pork barrel spending in the relief bill that had nothing to do with hurricane relief.[17]

Meadows introduced the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, a bill that would impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that facilitate transactions or money laundering on behalf of Hezbollah or its agents.[18] Hezbollah is designated a terrorist organization in the United States.[18] The bill passed in the House on July 22, 2014.[19] Meadows said that "we must pass this legislation to make sure that we can do is cripple their ability to finance and put people out of harm's way."[19]

On July 23, 2014, Meadows introduced the Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014, a bill that would change the record-keeping requirements about some types of communications to ensure that information is not lost.[20] The bill would make it easier to fire a person who willfully and unlawfully concealed, removed, mutilated, obliterated, falsified, or destroyed any record, book, or other thing in the custody of such employee.[21] It would also ban federal employees from using instant messaging for work purposes.[20]

Meadows served as chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations up until June 20, 2015, when fellow Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz removed him from the position. A member of the House Republican leadership, Chaffetz removed Meadows due to Meadows's vote against a procedural motion the Republican leadership presented. Meadows was one of 34 Republicans who voted against the motion, which allowed for consideration of President Barack Obama's request for fast-track authority on trade agreements. Speaker John Boehner supported the measure, but many Republicans felt it gave too much power to Democrats and Obama specifically.[22] Chaffetz's action was seen as controversial, with many prominent Republican politicians, including Texas senator Ted Cruz, speaking out against the punishment.

On July 28, 2015, Meadows filed a motion to vacate the chair in order to force Boehner from his leadership position. The action was widely seen as an escalation of the feud between a faction of conservatives and the GOP leadership. Conservatives had long urged a coup against Boehner, whom they viewed as too eager to make deals with Democrats.[23]

On January 29, 2019, Meadows told newly seated representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that lawmakers need more than three days’ notice to attend questioning because they are busy and not just “sitting around eating bonbons.” The pair became confrontational during the first meeting of the Oversight and Reform Committee since Democrats took control of the House, the first time he and she appeared at a meeting together. He told Chairman Elijah Cummings that members should get five days’ notice before hearing questioning of witnesses by staff attorneys. Ocasio-Cortez asked Cummings if Republicans, when controlling the committee in the 115th Congress, gave members more notice to make arrangements, to which he replied in the negative.[24]

2013 federal government shutdown[edit]

Meadows has been described as playing an important part of the United States federal government shutdown of 2013.[25][26][27] On August 21, 2013, he wrote an open letter to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor encouraging them to "affirmatively de-fund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriations bills brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill."[28][29] The document was signed by 79 of Meadows's colleagues in the House.[25][29] Heritage Action (which opened operations in North Carolina in January 2011[30]), ran critical Internet advertisements in the districts of 100 Republican lawmakers who failed to sign the letter.[31] The letter has been described as controversial within the Republican Party.[25][32]

The New York Daily News said Meadows put the federal government on the road to shutdown, saying calls to defund Obamacare through spending bills languished until Meadows wrote his letter.[27] Meadows downplayed his influence, saying "I'm one of 435 members and a very small part of this."[27] CNN described Meadows as the "architect of the brink" for his letter suggesting that Obamacare be defunded in any continuing appropriations bill.[25] Meadows said that sensationalized his role.[26]

John Ostendorff of the Asheville Citizen-Times wrote that Meadows "said it's best to close the government in the short term to win a delay on 'Obamacare', despite the potential negative impact on the economy."[26] Ostendorff wrote that Meadows said he was doing what Tea Party members in Western North Carolina wanted him to do.[26] Meadows said his constituents wanted him to fight against Obamacare "regardless of consequences."[25] Jane Bilello, head of the Asheville Tea Party, said Meadows "truly represents us" on the issue of Obamacare.[25] Meadows reportedly holds conference calls with members of the Asheville Tea Party, telling them what's going on in Congress and about challenges he faces promoting their agenda.[25]

In public comments, Meadows said he was working on a compromise that involved passing appropriations bills that would fund only parts of the government, such as a bill to fund the National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health. But partial or "mini" funding bills were rejected by the Democratic majority in the United States Senate.[26]

Resolution to remove Speaker Boehner[edit]

On July 28, 2015, Meadows filed a resolution[33] to vote on removing John Boehner as speaker of the House.[34] If the resolution passed, the House would then vote to elect a new speaker.[34]

Because Meadows filed it as a nonprivileged resolution, it was sent to the House Committee on Rules for a vote first, rather than the House floor.[34] The Committee on Rules was considered to have many members who were loyal to Boehner, so the resolution was seen as unlikely to move forward.[34]

Meadows said he filed the resolution because Boehner had "endeavored to consolidate power, bypassing the majority" of Congress; "through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy," "uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience"; "has intentionally provided for voice votes on consequential and controversial legislation to be taken without notice and with few Members present"; "uses the legislative calendar to create crises for the American People"; allowed members less than three days to review legislation before voting; and limited meaningful debate on the House floor.[33]

The resolution received support from Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr.[35]

Boehner responded, "Listen, you have a member here and a member there who are off the reservation. No big deal ... Listen, this is one member. All right. I've got broad support amongst my colleagues. And frankly, it isn't even deserving of a vote."[36]

On September 25 Boehner announced his intention to resign as speaker.[37] He officially resigned on October 31, 2015.[38]

In an October 2017 Vanity Fair article, Boehner said of Meadows, "He's an idiot. I can't tell you what makes him tick."[39]

Staffing controversy and sexual harassment[edit]

A group of employees reported to Meadows's deputy chief of staff in October 2014 that they were uncomfortable with Meadows's then chief of staff, Kenny West, calling his behavior "inappropriate towards them". Meadows asked Representative Trey Gowdy's chief of staff to interview the employees, and Meadows eventually limited or prohibited West's presence in Meadows's offices.[40]

Although West resigned after the employees accused him of inappropriate behavior, he remained on the House payroll in violation of House rules, according to an independent House Ethics Committee investigation. Meadows paid West $58,125 from April 2015 to August 2015 even though he was no longer working in Meadows's office. There is "substantial reason to believe that Representative Meadows retained an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with the compensation the employee received and certified that the compensation met applicable House standards, in violation of House rules and standards of conduct," the Office of Congressional Ethics report said.

In November 2018 the House Ethics Committee fined Meadows over $40,000 after concluding he “did not do enough to address” sexual harassment allegations against West. The committee concluded Meadows took “immediate and appropriate steps” by separating West from female staffers and requesting an investigation, but noted that West retained his title and “apparent authority over staff” during this period. “Representative Meadows could have and should have done more to ensure that his congressional office was free from discrimination or the perception of discrimination,” the committee wrote. The committee fined Meadows $40,625 “for Mr. West’s salary that was not commensurate with his work.” The Daily Beast previously reported that a former aide told the committee Meadows and other top staff members in his office were aware of West’s behavior before it was publicly reported.[41]

2016 election[edit]

Meadows appeared with candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in July 2016 just after the Republican National Convention, leading the crowd in a chant, "Lock her up," the anti-Hillary Clinton refrain.[42]

2018 election[edit]

Meadows won reelection to his seat in the November 6, 2018 election, receiving 59% of the vote to his Democratic opponent Phillip Price's 38%.[43]

During the campaign Meadows continued to support Trump's agenda, referring to Trump as a "conservative president" in 2017 [44] and suggesting that Republicans who didn't support Trump should be removed from office.[45] In January 2018 Meadows traveled to Davos, Switzerland, with a congressional delegation for the World Economic Forum, along with a White House delegation including Trump and cabinet members including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.[46][47]

Price, the co-owner of a small lumber recycling business in McDowell County, defeated a doctor and a college professor in the Democratic primary. He attributed his primary win to hard work. Meadows, he said, was instead spending his time attacking a Justice Department official supervising the special counsel investigating the Trump administration.[48]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]


Meadows is pro-life and has called abortion a tragedy. He opposes federal funding for abortion and believes parents should be notified of underage abortion procedures. He also opposes churches and other religious sites being forced to provide birth control options.[52]


While running for office in June 2012, Meadows said, "2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is," implying that President Obama was not born in the United States. He made a similar comment later that month. When asked about his comment, Meadows said it was "a non-issue", "probably a poor choice of words on my part" and that he ultimately believed that Obama was an American citizen.[53]


Meadows is part of a group that has advocated for a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. He opposed the recent federal stimulus spending and has expressed a desire for the federal spending growth rate to be capped at the inflation rate. He supports a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget has been balanced. Meadows opposes any cuts to military spending levels.[52]

Civil rights[edit]

In February 2013 Meadows voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act. Meadows has said he casts his votes based not on his personal feelings but on what the majority of his constituents in "God's Country" tell him to do.[54]

Environment and energy[edit]

In December 2016 Meadows gave Trump a wish list of regulations to be repealed. It included a demand to get rid of federal funding to study climate change. He also requested Trump repeal several environmental regulations, including the Renewable Fuel Standard, end the prohibition of drilling oil on federal lands, and pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.[55]

Meadows has said that cap-and-trade emission policies are ineffective and have minimal impact on the global environment. He has proposed that the United States tap into oil and gas reserves to keep energy prices low and develop energy independence. He supports tapping into off-shore oil and gas supplies.[52]

LGBT rights[edit]

Meadows opposes same-sex marriage. In March 2013 he said that if the Supreme Court allowed gay marriage, it would cause a constitutional crisis if the federal government decided to dismiss state decisions and thus infringe on state's rights.[56]

Gun control[edit]

Meadows opposes any restrictions on gun purchases and opposes a national gun registry that would list detailed information about firearm ownership.[52]


Meadows opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and has stated that it should be replaced by private enterprise.[52]

Less than a year after taking office, Meadows wrote the letter that initially urged House Speaker John Boehner to shut down the government unless the ACA was defunded. Some constituents have criticized him as responsible for the 2013 government shutdown; the Washington Post called him its "chief architect". His district lost up to $1 million per day during the shutdown because the national parks were closed.[57]

In January 2017 Meadows voted for a budget resolution that initiated the process of repealing Obamacare.[58] On May 4, 2017, Meadows voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would partially repeal and replace Obamacare.[59]

After the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released numbers about the AHCA's effects on Americans on May 24, 2017, there were several reports that Meadows became emotional after reading about the AHCA's likely effects on those with preexisting conditions.[60] Others reported he cried only after bringing up his family members who had dealt with preexisting conditions, including his sister who had died of breast cancer, and his father who had died of lung cancer. Meadows said he wouldn't "make a political decision today that affects somebody's sister or father because I wouldn't do it to myself."[61] When asked about the CBO numbers, Meadows said the government should ensure people with preexisting conditions can afford health care, saying, "The president is committed to making sure preexisting conditions are covered in principle and in practice, which means that funding has to be there to make it work."[62]

Net neutrality[edit]

Meadows opposes regulations that require all internet providers provide internet at equal speeds to all parties. In 2016 he gave Trump a list of regulations to repeal that included net neutrality regulations by the Federal Communications Commission.[55]

Russia investigation[edit]

Meadows, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been a harsh critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. During Trump's presidency, Meadows regularly conferred with Trump about Mueller's probe.[63][64] Meadows has been described as a "Trump ally".[65] In May 2018, Meadows called for a financial audit of the Mueller investigation.[66]

In July 2018, along with Jim Jordan, Meadows called on the Department of Justice to "review allegations that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to subpoena phone records and documents from a House Intelligence Committee staffer". An aide termed the deputy AG's threats "downright chilling". In their written request, they wrote that in his use of investigative powers, Rosenstein retaliated "against rank-and-file staff members", therefore abusing his authority.[67] Furthermore, during a Fox News interview by Laura Ingraham that same month, he "threatened to force a vote on the GOP resolution" that would impeach the deputy AG. Arguing he could force the resolution to the floor as a "privileged motion", he elaborated: "we hope it doesn’t have to come to that". He filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein on July 25, although the measure cannot be "brought straight to the House floor".[68] Meadows's Democratic opponent in the 2018 election, Phillip Price, condemned the impeachment resolution as an attempt to shut down the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling into the 2016 election through “obstruction of justice.”[69]


Meadows has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and he opposes a raise in all taxes, including the income tax. Meadows supports a flat-rate income tax for all earners and a repeal of the raise in the capital gains tax. He also supports the elimination of the estate tax.[52]


Meadows presented a letter to Donald Trump in 2016 that demanded the repeal of the federal requirement that public works projects pay laborers and mechanics the locally prevailing wages, which was initially made to protect traveling black workers in the South from being paid far less than local workers. The letter also demanded the repeal of the overtime rule from the Obama administration, which said people making less than $47,000 a year must be paid for overtime hours, compared to the previous requirement that those making over $23,000 a year could be denied overtime pay if the worker's duties could be considered "managerial." The letter also demanded the end of regulations requiring federal contractors to be paid for sick leave.[55]

Presidential chief of staff bid[edit]

Meadows was vocal about his desire to work in the White House as chief of staff upon the January 2019 departure of John F. Kelly.[70]


  1. ^ District 10, with three counties, (Burke (Morganton), Mitchell and Rutherford) that border on District 11, also includes the counties of Avery, Caldwell, Catawba (Hickory and Newton), Cleveland (Shelby), Gaston (Gastonia) and Lincoln (Lincolnton).


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  44. ^ [2] – 'Mark Meadows: 'Donald Trump is a conservative' (November 1, 2017)
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  70. ^ Caralle, Katelyn. (December 10, 2018). "Mark Meadows wants to be Trump's chief of staff." Washington Examiner website Retrieved December 10, 2018.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Heath Shuler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Jordan
Chair of the Freedom Caucus
Succeeded by
Andy Biggs
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Sean Patrick Maloney
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Grace Meng