LUMBERTON — A candidate for the Robeson County Board of Commissioners admitted Monday that he had been involved in some questionable election practices 30 years ago and was guilty of a misdeameanor.
“This was a long time ago in my life, a part of my life I’m not particularly proud of,” Lloyd “Mickey” Meekins Jr. told The Robesonian. “But I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be Billy Graham.”
Meekins confirmed that he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor following a federal vote-buying investigation in the 1980s. At the time, he was in his 20s and serving as a member of the Dillon County Council in South Carolina.
Meekins had faced several felony charges, including depriving “the citizens of Dillon County of the right to have their votes tabulated free from dilution through paying voters, altering ballots and tabulating fraudulent ballots.” At the time of the investigation, the Sumpter Daily Item newspaper reported that Meekins faced charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and voting more than once in connection with two Democratic primaries.
Meekins eventually cut a deal with federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge in exchange for his testimony against others.
“When they offered me the misdemeanor plea I took it,” Meekins said. “I was young at the time and didn’t have the money for a lawyer.”
Meekins filed Friday as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the District 6 seat on the Board of Commissioners. The seat is currently held by David Edge, the lone Republican on the eight-member board.
Meekins on Monday denied some of the allegations against him concerning vote buying.
“They called it conspiracy, but I really didn’t get involved that much. I didn’t go door-to-door,” he said. “All I did was attend some of the meetings where others (charged with vote buying) were present. I was young at the time and just thought I was helping a friend.”
Meekins said that after his misdemeanor conviction, he resigned from the Dillon County Council. He said that he moved to Lumberton in 1982, where he opened his family business, Lloyd Meekins Auction Company.
Meekins was appointed by former Gov. Mike Easley to the N.C. Auctioneers Board, the board that regulates licensing of the state’s auctioneers. Reappointed by former Gov. Bev Perdue, he resigned his seat on the board in 2010 after a newspaper reported that he had the misdemeanor criminal conviction and that he had flown Perdue to campaign events during the final weeks of her gubernatorial campaign in 2008.
Meekins told The Robesonian that when he flew Perdue to any campaign event, he did not charge her anything except for feul for his plane. He said that he had no intention of keeping his past misdemeanor conviction from the voters.
‘I was planning to write a letter and in it state I have this misdemeanor conviction,” he said. “But now since all of this is coming out in the paper I guess I don’t have to write the letter.”
If elected as a county commissioner, Meekins has said he will donate his commissioner’s salary to the Lumberton High School Booster Club and the Robeson County Public Library. He also said that if the commissioners continue to receive $30,000 a year to use at their discretion, he will give each of the six schools in his district $5,000.