Six months after claiming she was homeless and needed to go on short-term disability, Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau is back at work and plans to run for re election in 2006.
Reneau, who disclosed in October 2003 she had rheumatoid arthritis, said the stress of a failing marriage contributed to health problems last year that made it difficult to get out of bed.
Details were revealed in a December transcript filed in Reneau's pending divorce case with her estranged husband, Edmond real-estate investor Gordon Wynn. The trial is set for Dec. 5.
"Some days she can get out of bed and actually get to Oklahoma City to do the work she needs to do as a state labor commissioner, Reneau's attorney, Laura Haag McConnell, told Oklahoma County Special Judge Larry Shaw. "Some days she's forced to stay in bed all day and work on a computer or somehow function from Muskogee, but she's been unable to be in Oklahoma City full time.
In October, Reneau, 50, moved out of the Edmond home she shared with Wynn and split time between her parent's house in Muskogee and friends in Oklahoma City, according to the transcript. The testimony was part of Reneau's application for temporary support. The couple were married in 2000.
"She's not living anywhere, McConnell told Shaw. "She's homeless. She's staying with her parents for a couple days, a week, staying with friends for part time. She does not have the funds to get into a home.
Reneau claimed she had $15,000 in unpaid medical bills and had been diagnosed with scleroderma, a chronic disease that can cause hardening of the skin and internal organs. She planned to go on short-term disability and draw 60 percent of her pay, or $48,000, according to the testimony. Reneau's annual salary is almost $81,000.
Six months later, Reneau called the revelations embarrassing but is glad the episode is behind her. She said later medical tests showed she did not have scleroderma.
"As I left the marriage, moved out and got on my own, I started improving and getting better, Reneau said in an interview with The Oklahoman. "As the weeks and months went by, I came back to work. I'm just throwing myself back into my work, and I'm fine.
"I'm always going to have rheumatoid arthritis, and I'll have good days and I'll have bad days. I have to learn how to live with that.
Reneau, first elected in 1994, plans to run for a fourth term next year. "I love what I do, and I can't imagine doing anything else, she said. "The people might send me off to do something else, and I'll have to figure that out. But I can't imagine not doing things for people with regards to the labor issues.Archive ID: 2407326