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Mehmet Oz: Buying a House for $1 Is Shameful (Unless My Family Does It)

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Houses are a dicey topic for Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz. This summer, he followed up a truly novel crudités scandal with a more conventional “politician who owns too many homes” controversy. The TV doctor got himself into trouble by suggesting he owns only two houses when he actually possesses at least ten residential properties. Then he quibbled over the definition of “home.”

One might think that, after the housing debacle blew over, Oz would avoid all mention of residences and their procurement. But the candidate couldn’t resist making another risky, clumsily executed online jab. Oz’s campaign went after his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman, for purchasing his home at the low price of $1.

Highlighting this detail turned out to be a bad move. The attack prompted journalists to do some digging into how much Oz’s in-laws paid for the home where he and his wife are living temporarily while their recently purchased $3.1 million Pennsylvania house is renovated. NBC News reported Thursday:

An NBC News property records search showed that the candidate’s mother-in-law, Emily Lemole, also bought her home in the Bryn Athyn neighborhood for $1 in August of 2000. The appraised value of that home currently stands at $509,820. 


The $1 house line was part of the Oz campaign’s larger effort to paint Fetterman as a hypocrite for projecting a blue-collar image despite mooching off his parents well into adulthood. PennLive explains:

Public records show — and Fetterman has openly acknowledged — that for a long stretch lasting well into his 40s, his main source of income came from his parents, who gave him and his family $54,000 in 2015 alone. That was part of the financial support his parents regularly provided when Fetterman’s only paying work was $150 a month as mayor of Braddock, a job he held from his mid-30s until he turned 49. He lived in an industrial-style loft he purchased from his sister for $1 after she paid $70,000 for it six years earlier.

Although Fetterman hasn’t hidden these facts and describes his own upbringing as “cushy,” his dependence on his parents still could have been good fodder for criticism from members of the Oz campaign, if they knew how. But they’ve gone about it in an odd way, first with fat-shaming depictions of Fetterman as a “basement bum” and now with what looks like a hypocritical attack on family members essentially gifting each other homes. And it doesn’t seem the Oz campaign was ready for the press to notice that a $1 home purchase is a detail from both candidates’ backgrounds. Per NBC News:

When asked for comment about the similar purchases, the Oz campaign’s Communications Director Brittany Yannick told NBC news that “this is completely different. This house was already in the Lemole family. Doctor Oz and Lisa pay rent while their other home in Bryn Athyn is being renovated. John Fetterman bought his house for a dollar from his sister, and receives rent money from his mom and dad. Doctor Oz has had a real job. John Fetterman’s only job appears to be trying to release convicted murderers onto the streets.” 

How is Oz’s mother-in-law buying a house from a family member for $1 “completely different” from Fetterman buying a house from a family member for $1? It’s unclear. But at this rate, we’ll soon discover that Oz is an avid hoodie collector who spent much of his adulthood sleeping on a pullout couch in his parents’ basement.

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Mehmet Oz: Buying $1 House Is Bad (Unless My Family Does It)