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Bio sketch revisions remove reference to a four-year degree for Meadows

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, the House Freedom Caucus who had been prominently mentioned as a possible choice as President Trump's chief of staff, has had an update of his official congressional biography and Wikipedia biography. The biographical sketches no longer say that he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida. That's because he didn't, the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday.

Meadows official biographical sketch on a U.S. House website listed his education as "B.A., University of South Florida, Tampa," said the story by the Tampa Bay Times, which also included a screenshot of the House bio. Instead of a four-year degree, Meadows earned an "associate of arts" from USF in December 1980, USF spokesman Adam Freeman told the Florida newspaper. That degree is "similar to a degree an individual might earn after completing two years at a community college," Freeman told reporter Steve Contorno.

The House historian corrected Meadows' biography Monday after the Tampa Bay Times inquired about the discrepancy.

Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson told the Hendersonville Lightning on Wednesday that no one in Meadows' office had made the Wikipedia revisions on Dec. 11 and that Meadows and his aides had never been the source of the references to a four-year degree from USF.

The Washington press corps and newspapers that cover the 11th Congressional District, including the Hendersonville Lightning, have routinely repeated the reference to Meadows as a graduate of USF, sometimes reporting that his B.A. was in "business management." There's no business management degree for two-year students, Freeman told the Florida newspaper.

The Tampa Bay Times was apparently looking into Meadows' upbringing and early adult years in the Tampa Bay area as the possibility increased that he would become Trump's third chief of staff. While several other possible candidates publicly took their names out of consideration, Meadows, one of the Trump's earliest and strongest supporters in Congress, made his interest clear. He told a reporter on Monday, Dec. 10, that it would be "an incredible honor" to serve in the White House. The next day, the Wikipedia page was changed. One day later, on Dec. 12, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Trump had eliminated Meadows from consideration.

“Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress," she said. "The President told him we need him in Congress so he can continue the great work he is doing there.”

Not every reference to his college education has been changed to describe an associates degree.

"He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in business management," Meadows' bio on the election news site Ballotpedia says, citing the National Journal as the source of the information.

Although references to a B.A. or a degree in business management are common in stories about Meadows, the Tampa Bay Times report noted that "none of these stories directly quote Meadows claiming (to have) such a degree from USF. It also does not appear that Meadows has ever professed a four-year degree from USF on his Congressional website, according to a review of archived web pages."

The person who tweaked the Meadows' Wikipedia bio made two other changes, removing a claim that he had "joined Sigma Chi Fraternity" at USF and that he previously had attended Florida State University. An FSU spokesman confirmed to the Florida newspaper that Meadows attended the university in 1977-78.

On Wednesday the Wikipedia page had been updated yet again to reflect the facts the Tampa Bay Times uncovered.