WJBF Investigates: Robocalls About Project Jackson: Informatio - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF Investigates: Robocalls About Project Jackson: Information or Misinformation?

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North Augusta, SC -

Over the weekend, many Aiken County residents picked up the phone to hear this:

A robocall saying, "Officials in Aiken County are pushing a proposal to use taxpayer money to underwrite a millionaire who's being sued."

The call is referencing Project Jackson.  North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones got the same call Monday night.

"I didn't hear anything in there that I felt was truthful," he says.

He says that first of all there is no millionaire or developer tied to the project who is being sued; the project is not at a stage to event select a developer. 

The call continues with a statement that hits a lot closer to home, local taxpayers' pockets.

"County Council wants to give $28 million of taxpayer money to be used by Chris Sceon to build a baseball stadium," the robocall continues.

We challenged North Augusta leaders about the claims made in the call.

"Would this project be taking any existing tax money, namely $28 million away from Aiken County?"

"No," Mayor Lark Jones replies.  "It is only taking the increment from the things built down there."

"You can't lose what you never had," North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover adds.  "With Project Jackson money they aren't giving anything up.  They never had it, so not giving up something. We're not asking for one penny of existing revenue."

We confirmed with the Aiken County Administrator that the intergovernmental agreement would not in fact remove any existing money from the Aiken County budget, and that the county would only agree to forego incremental revenue from that area for a set period of time.  Then we reached out to the group responsible for the call, "We The People, Aiken."

"We call it a Pelosi," leader Debbie Nix says.  "These numbers are not concrete numbers."

We specifically asked about that concrete number used in the call, the claim that $28 million of tax payer money would be taken from the county:

"It's all how you say it, a tax dollar is a tax dollar," Nix says.  "Whether you're moving it around today, 2016, 2013, our tax dollars are going to be used to build a baseball stadium."

And to the question that those dollars wouldn't exist without the project?

"It's still our tax dollars."

North Augusta leaders believe there is a simple explanation behind the misinformation:

"That call was using a lot of scare and fear tactics," Jones says.


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