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story.lead_photo.caption This screenshot shows a tweet posted by Rep. Stephen Meeks asserting that being poor "in America is a personal choice."

An Arkansas representative who wrote on Twitter that poverty is a "personal choice" has apologized to people offended by the post, which he said was poorly worded.

Rep. Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier, tweeted Saturday that being poor "in America is a personal choice, unless there are mitigating circumstances."

"A homeless man can go to school, get a job driving a truck making $70k per year and in 20 years become a millionaire," he wrote. "In America you can work hard and change your future - if you chose.”

In an interview, Meeks, a four-term legislator who is also a Papa John's Pizza delivery driver, said he originally wrote the tweet in response to a woman who said she was poor because of the government.

“I understand that there can be situations where there’s health issues, addiction, family circumstances, things like that,” he said. “But I also know from personal experience that someone in poverty can change that and change their life.”

Meeks ultimately deleted the post after receiving thousands of replies in response. Many of the responses were critical.

Meeks said he deleted the post because “things were getting out of hand.”

“A lot of those responses were negative, unfortunately people took the intent and twisted it,” he said.

Blake Rutherford, an Arkansas native and political commentator who served as advisor to three attorneys general, tweeted that Meeks has “no business serving in the legislature.”

Jesse Gibson, president of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association and chair of Little Rock Parks and Recreation, wrote that Meeks’ tweet was “the most tone deaf, insensitive, and clueless statement imaginable.”

Actor George Takei, who has more than 2.8 million followers on Twitter, also weighed in, calling Meeks a "completely moronic and out-of-touch representative."

Throughout Saturday, Meeks continued to issue tweets asserting instances in which the poor became wealthy, including a series of “myths” and “truths.”

On Sunday morning, Meeks tweeted again, calling the original post a "poorly worded tweet expressing my belief in the American dream."

“Based on the responses there are a lot of people who believe the American dream is out of reach," he added. "That is something we need to change. I apologize to anyone I offended that was not my intent.”

Some on Twitter continued to criticize the representative, writing that his apology did not address his assertion that those in poverty choose to be there.

Billy Fleming, an Arkansas native and former member of the White House Domestic Policy Council, wrote that the "wording wasn’t the problem."

"The sentiment that poor people are poor because they’re somehow defective was,” he wrote.


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Archived Comments

  • Dontcallmenames
    November 19, 2018 at 12:55 p.m.

    What's wrong with this? Now, even if you're disabled, there are many work-from-home money making opportunities.

  • GeneralMac
    November 19, 2018 at 12:56 p.m.

    " unless there are mitigating circumstances "

    He is correct.
    No need to apologize.

  • TuckerMax
    November 19, 2018 at 12:57 p.m.

    He doesn't know when to shut up, and, like most Republicans, he thinks he has to answers to all social ills when he's really just clueless.

    Still: Thank God for Twitter because it enables you to discern the morons among us. MAGA

  • Cockeyedview
    November 19, 2018 at 1:06 p.m.

    Not saying this guy is wrong or right but everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make themselves successful regardless of their circumstances. No one should buy into this,”A product of their environment” BS any longer. Get a job, work harder than anyone else and you will move up the ladder. This technique works in the military and the civilian world.

  • GOHOGS19
    November 19, 2018 at 1:08 p.m.

    liberals don't want to deal with the truth. they twisted his words to promote their socialist agenda.

  • Elector
    November 19, 2018 at 1:11 p.m.

    Many teachers in Arkansas make far less. We say we appreciate them and we’d pay them more but we don’t have the money. Yet the gov says the state has more money than it needs and proposed to lower its revenue! Roads are ok, bridges are fine. Teachers are paid enough to keep them on the job.

  • hogfan2012
    November 19, 2018 at 1:14 p.m.

    There is nothing wrong with or untrue about what he tweeted.

  • hah406
    November 19, 2018 at 1:22 p.m.

    Yes there is. One, there are a lot of mitigating circumstances out there that you have never even thought of. Walk a mile in another man's shoes before you judge. Second, how is a homeless man supposed to go to school for truck driving or anything else when, 1) it cost money to go to school, and 2) he doesn't even know where he is going to sleep or get something to eat tonight? Typical thinking from the idiot wing of the party of Trump.

    November 19, 2018 at 1:48 p.m.

    His math still assumes zero expenses. Surely he knows that revenue does not equal profit, and earnings doesn't equal savings. Everyone would be a millionaire without paying rent, student loans/tuition, healthcare, food, gas, or utilities, a fact lower income earners know better than most.

  • mrcharles
    November 19, 2018 at 1:54 p.m.

    R stands for his party thoughts. I would note Ben Carson , the race that GM doesnt like became a neurosurgeon. Cannot our R governor and Lt governor go to the housing projects and get a busload of surgeons? If so why not? Remember Arkansas can win a national championship in Feetball if we just try. Why havent we tried, after all we go them there boot straps.

    Work hard young man and you too can quarterback the New England patriots or be a rocket scientist.

    Hell, after all some poor people got them there microwaves and refrigerators and shoes. Just work hard and save your money and you too can be dealt with racist GM's in the ladder of success.

    Yes though twist [ see words that come out of DT] and the intent, Like Hyde-Smith telling a small crowd in Starkville, Miss., that “they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” ................Of course she is well aware in the good ole days down there in southern heritage mississippi about making those other folks not to vote [ some people have an aversion to being killed]. Golle gee, there is one of those R before her name. Same logic to apply why many of those folks who didnt vote didnt pull themselves up by their bootstraps the gop gave them. Smart, work hard, be good, go to deity houses, but remember besides bootstraps, you need to be those who need sunscreen in the summer.

    Then again we could just be like the grapes of wrath to white people who are poor, and since business already figured out how to deal with those people, that could start again and people can live under bridges [ though many are falling down].

    If you are disabled, perhaps you do not have a home. Yes those work at home scams, some people earn enough money to get a refrigerator- what is wrong with an old ice box with ice?

    Under Obama no jobs, under obama you should be able to get a job. Yes we have no bananas .