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Home --> Politics --> John Kerry --> My Neighbor, John Edwards

My Neighbor, John Edwards

Claim:   E-mail from neighbor describes Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]


Meet my neighbor

I'd like to introduce you to my neighbor. I'm from Raleigh, North Carolina, and for several years I've lived around the corner from Vice Presidential Candidate John Edwards. My neighbor John has been in the news a good deal lately, but it's hard to tell about the man himself from the coverage. Maybe I can help you get to know him better.

Even several years ago, before he was elevated to the national stage, my neighbor John didn't socialize much with other neighbors. He didn't gather with other neighbors at the Fourth of July and he didn't come out to the sledding hills to watch the kids play after a snow. My neighbor John preferred to jog through the neighborhood by himself. There's no sidewalk on Alleghany Drive, John's Street in Raleigh, and if you drove past him as he was jogging on the road and didn't slow down enough for his taste he'd flip you the bird. Even after he became a U.S. Senator, he'd still come home to Raleigh every once in a while, would still jog through the neighborhood, and would still flip the occasional bird to passing cars. He last showed me his middle finger about four years ago.

Since then, my neighbor John is rarely in town. When he is home, though, we in the neighborhood all know it. My neighbor John invited reporters from TV, radio, and print news organizations to come to his house in January 2003 for the announcement of his Presidential bid. He didn't want any news vans parked on his property — in fact, he made sure all the cameras and reporters waited in the street at the bottom of his driveway. That way everyone could get good footage of him strolling down the driveway to make his announcement, young children in tow. The news vans drove into the yards of John's neighbors and parked there. I heard two families ended up re-sodding their damaged yards, and John never apologized to anyone, much less offered any compensation. The family across the street from my neighbor John has since put up posts at their property line to try to keep that sort of thing from happening again.

The appearance was good for my neighbor John. Nobody else seems to matter to him. Since then, when my neighbor comes home (as he did July 10, to be interviewed with John Kerry for "60 Minutes"), Raleigh police officers block off the street. Those of us who live near him end up coming and going to and from our homes on a circuitous route, on a bad, unsurfaced road. Forsyth Street has been closed to through traffic, except when my neighbor is in town, because the road has been ripped up for installation of new gas and sewer lines. My neighbor's street is a public, city-maintained street, and it is the best way to get to homes just north of his. If my neighbor is around, though, apparently none of the rest of us can use the street at all.

It's good for my neighbor John. Nobody else seems to matter to him. My neighbor John has been a very successful trial lawyer, but his practice of law sometimes seems more like extortion. A friend of mine is a doctor in Raleigh. He recently spoke with another doctor, an anesthesiologist, who was named in a suit filed by my neighbor John. Apparently a surgeon at a local hospital had made a mistake, and my neighbor John represented the injured patient. Not only did my neighbor John sue the doctor who made the mistake, but also sued the hospital and a string of others, including the anesthesiologist. There was no problem with the anesthesia — the anesthesiologist had done absolutely nothing wrong. His attorney said so in a meeting with my neighbor John. John's neighborly response was that he couldn't care less if the doctor had done nothing wrong. That wasn't the point. The point was that clients come to my neighbor John because of his record of success and his reputation for thoroughness. Every defendant in a suit he files pays, regardless of whether they are actually guilty or not. My neighbor John demanded a settlement of $250,000, and said his firm was willing to spend $2 million to get it. The doctor's insurance company promptly paid the $250,000.

The rate of growth in North Carolina's medical malpractice insurance rates is among the highest in the nation. The total cost of health care rises with those rates. My neighbor John's slimy extortion is part of the reason.

Forget about right or wrong, guilt or innocence. My neighbor John did what was best for himself. Nobody else seemed to matter.

My neighbor John may be a trial lawyer, but in front of juries he also claims to be something of a psychic. You see, my neighbor John specializes in cases involving the death or serious injury of children. He claims to receive messages from dead or brain-damaged children, and the messages are much clearer and more specific than those received by the famous "psychic" who nearly shares my neighbor's name.

When a child has been killed or is otherwise unable to speak for him or herself, my neighbor John says he has the ability to "channel" that child. He tells juries he feels the child inside him, and that he has messages from that child, which he relays to jury members. He tells juries about the car-accident death of his own son, Wade, and speculates that he may have received the ability to "feel" the souls of dead or injured children because of the close relationship he still feels with his son.

It sounds hokey and more than a little creepy, but it seems to play well with juries, and results in very high jury awards. These awards have made my neighbor extremely wealthy. He's so wealthy that he created a corporation of which he is the only member, and pays himself most of his earnings as corporate dividends, not as salary or wages. Medicare taxes are not levied on dividend income, so my neighbor has avoided paying $600,000 into the Medicare system since 1995 by setting up this tax shelter. But he says others aren't paying their fair share of Medicare taxes.

It's good for my neighbor John, and nobody else seems to matter.

My neighbor made a lot of promises on his way to the Senate. He promised strong support for our military, but then voted against body armor, combat pay, and better health care for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He promised to support traditional North Carolina values, but then voted to the left of Ted Kennedy on partial-birth abortion, taxes, property rights, and a host of other issues. We in North Carolina feel betrayed. My neighbor John figuratively gave his constituents the middle finger while he ingratiated himself to Tom Daschle and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership.

My neighbor announced many months ago that he would not seek reelection, because he knows he's unpopular in North Carolina and would lose by a huge margin. According to a poll released this week, when the Kerry/Edwards ticket was announced, support for Kerry in North Carolina went down, not up.

We North Carolinians know John Edwards. We've been betrayed by him, and we do not support him.

But as he broke his promises to us, he gained favor with the Democratic Party leadership. Now he's a political star. I guess turning his back on the people he claims to represent has worked out well for my neighbor, John Edwards. Nobody else seems to matter.

Origins:   This piece about North Carolina senator John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, was posted to various political newsgroups and web sites in early August 2004, attributed to one Senator John Edwards Brian T. Nicholson, "a neighbor of John Edwards."

Mr. Nicholson does live on Yadkin Drive in Raleigh, a street which intersects Alleghany Drive, where Senator Edwards resides. However, Mr. Nicholson now maintains that he did not pen the essay attributed to him, but that he wrote a private message to family and friends which was altered by someone else and turned into the piece now circulating on the Internet. (He has not yet produced the original version or explained which parts of his message were altered, however.)

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, other neighbors of Senator Edwards report they haven't observed the behaviors attributed to him in the piece quoted above.

For example, the Internet essay maintains:
If you drove past him as he was jogging on the road and didn't slow down enough for his taste he'd flip you the bird. He last showed me his middle finger about four years ago.
However, the News & Observer reports:
But neighbors this week said they saw Edwards wave while jogging, sometimes giving a thumbs up or stopping briefly to chat. No one said they saw any rude gesture.

"I've never seen him be rude or ugly," said Tootie Flythe, who was so upset by the essay that she wrote a multipage response in longhand, which she is keeping to herself.

Flythe lives across the street from the Edwardses, and she said John Edwards sometimes cuts through her yard to get to a greenway. He always stops to ask about her family, said Flythe, a 54-year-old registered Democrat.

The essay says Edwards didn't hang out with neighbors on the Fourth of July or go out to sledding hills to watch kids play in the snow.

But Edwards' neighbors said they don't do that, either.

Ray Mays lived across the street from Edwards for 10 years, until he sold his house this summer. Mays, a 61-year-old who said he will vote for President Bush this fall, said he and Edwards were "passing acquaintances," though he knew Elizabeth Edwards better.

Mays attended one or two Christmas parties at the Edwards home and remembers Elizabeth spending most of her time in the kitchen, cooking.

"They were always friendly," he said. "They never gave the appearance that they were stuck up in any way."
The essay also claims:
My neighbor John invited reporters from TV, radio, and print news organizations to come to his house in January 2003 for the announcement of his Presidential bid. He didn't want any news vans parked on his property — in fact, he made sure all the cameras and reporters waited in the street at the bottom of his driveway. That way everyone could get good footage of him strolling down the driveway to make his announcement, young children in tow. The news vans drove into the yards of John's neighbors and parked there. I heard two families ended up re-sodding their damaged yards, and John never apologized to anyone, much less offered any compensation
But on 2 January 2003, the day he officially announced his candidacy for president, Senator Edwards sent a note containing the following apology and offer to repair damaged lawns (at his expense) to his neighbors:
Dear Friends & Neighbors:

As you know, 2003 has gotten off to an exciting start for our family. In light of our recent decision, we know that many of you may also be feeling the effects. We want to apologize for any inconvenience you and your family may have experienced.

Please call our assistant, Andrew Young . . . if you have any lawn damage from the media traffic. Our personal lawn maintenance company will make any necessary repairs. Thank you for your patience.
The Internet piece goes on to claim that the standard security provided to presidential and vice-presidential candidates is somehow an inconsiderate and selfish whim of Senator Edwards', one which has made access to the Raleigh neighborhood where he lives inconvenient for other residents:
The appearance was good for my neighbor John. Nobody else seems to matter to him. Since then, when my neighbor comes home (as he did July 10, to be interviewed with John Kerry for "60 Minutes"), Raleigh police officers block off the street. Those of us who live near him end up coming and going to and from our homes on a circuitous route, on a bad, unsurfaced road. Forsyth Street has been closed to through traffic, except when my neighbor is in town, because the road has been ripped up for installation of new gas and sewer lines. My neighbor's street is a public, city-maintained street, and it is the best way to get to homes just north of his. If my neighbor is around, though, apparently none of the rest of us can use the street at all.
Again, however, the News & Observer reported differently:
When Edwards is at home, which isn't often these days, police block his section of Alleghany Drive but let residents, guests and home repair services through.

The essay complained about that inconvenience, but Alleghany residents said they manage easily.

"We have a lot of contractors coming and going," said Brenda Gibson, 47, a registered Republican. "I have nothing negative to say."

Some of the neighbors said they liked having traffic access limited because it stops cars from speeding down the narrow street.

"Alleghany was just a thoroughfare," said Clotilde Collins, 74. "You take your life in your hands trying to get out of your driveway."

Some said they are excited to have Edwards as a neighbor. And they like looking out their windows to see Secret Service agents.

"I love the security," Gibson said.
Last updated:   13 August 2004

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  Sources Sources:
    Bonner, Lynn.   "E-Mail About Edwards Disputed."
    The [Raleigh] News & Observer.   13 August 2004.