By Paul Gable
A press conference held Friday by Angie Jones, a candidate for Horry County Treasurer in the Tuesday June 14, 2016 Republican primary election, left unanswered questions as to why Jones resigned her position as Deputy Treasurer just five days before the primary.
Jones will begin a position in the Horry County Clerk of Courts office Monday morning. Jones mother, Nancy Jones, is currently Deputy Clerk of Courts, but will not supervise her daughter, according to Melanie Huggins Ward.
Jones claimed she resigned from the Treasurer’s office because of a hostile work environment toward her since February.
I believe that reason it total political spin and has nothing to do with why Jones resigned.
According to several sources within Horry County Government, prior to her resignation Jones was the subject of an internal investigation on alleged removal of penalties from a tax notice sent to her brother.
After receiving inquiries earlier in the week from local media about documents supporting the allegations, Treasurer Roddy Dickinson reportedly looked into the allegations.
Jones resigned from her Deputy Treasurer position Thursday and the only comment Dickinson would make was to confirm her resignation.
Jones’ press conference Friday was to supposedly address Jones’ resignation. This was the perfect time for Jones to address the investigation and answer questions about it. She didn’t.
As the subject of an investigation, Jones could have ordered the release of any and all documents and statements included in that investigation and provided that information to media outlets. She didn’t.
Instead, Jones’ statement was a long rant about alleged mistreatment of Jones by Dickinson as well as employees who worked under Jones’ supervision. The press conference conveniently coincided with Dickinson being out of town and unavailable for comment, which Jones was aware of.
Melanie Huggins Ward, in announcing Jones’ hiring to the Clerk of Courts office said, “Even though there was nothing proven by anyone in Horry County Government or the Horry County Treasurer’s office that she did anything wrong, she (Jones) was given the option by Mr. Dickinson to resign or be terminated.” No proof offered.
Jones ‘statement was a neatly crafted message designed to draw sympathy toward her and her campaign and paint Treasurer Roddy Dickinson as an ogre and her opponent, Jonathan Hyman, as a beneficiary of the ‘Good Ole Boy’ system.
And it was a great performance, but that is all it was, a performance. The press conference was never designed to answer questions about the allegations or allow any to be asked.
“I will no longer subject myself to the hostile work environment and malicious attacks that I have endured during the last several months,” Jones said in her statement. No proof offered.
Jones further stated, “There were no findings of wrongdoing but that didn’t stop Roddy Dickinson… He was determined to remove me from my position during this last week of the campaign and would stop at nothing to try and make this a reality…” Still no proof offered.
Those statements demonstrate Jones’ apparent anger at Dickinson for his not supporting her candidacy, something you would expect an officeholder to do for his appointed deputy.
But, they do not address the real elephant in the room – Why were penalties mandated by state law removed from Jones’ brother’s tax bill when it was paid late?
Immediately after completing her statement, Jones left the podium and walked directly back into the Government and Justice Center, negating any chance of questions about the investigation being asked.
During her press conference, Jones made a passing reference to “a $15 penalty I supposedly waived.”
Jones also mentioned her mother paid over $2,700 (cumulative) on eight tax bills.
I’m not sure where Jones drew $15 penalty amount from. It is true Jones mother paid over $2,700 ($2735.10 to be exact) on a total of eight tax bills all paid on January 14, 2016, according to Horry County tax payment records.
Jones’ brother’s tax bill, the one with the missing penalty charge is not included among the eight paid on January 14th nor among the $2,735.10 paid on that date.
The original amount due on Jones’ brother’s tax notice was $216.57. That same amount was paid on February 3, 2016, according to Horry County records. (Click on the Angie Jones 1 link below to view)
According to state law (Section 12-45-180), a three percent penalty should have been added by the county auditor on January 16, 2016 and an additional seven percent penalty added by the county auditor on February 2, 2016.
Those penalties are to be collected by the county treasurer, according to state law.
A memo in the Treasurer’s office records on this bill states, “Per Angie Jones, missed when paid bulk, Treasurer error, SGM02032016.” (Click on the Angie Jones 2 link below to view)
In order to obtain a waiver of penalties, state law (Section 12-45-185) mandates a written application must be made to the county treasurer including documentation sufficient for the county treasurer to conclude that the taxpayer made timely payment of the taxes.
I reached out to the Jones campaign through Melanie Huggins Ward with a request for Angie Jones to call me so I could ask specific questions. I received no phone call as of the time this story was posted.
There is one way for Jones to demonstrate that she did nothing wrong and to prove the statements she has made. Allow material related to the investigation to be made public and provide it to the media.
Until Jones is willing to allow the release of that information, she is merely engaging in political spin that she hopes will carry her through the final days of the campaign.