Did Commission punish whistle blower Hilton?


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It was Willa Hilton’s letter to Augusta city leaders that prompted the commission’s actions this week. But those actions also included Willa Hilton, the lady who blew the whistle.

She wrote, commissioners acted. Hilton’s accusations that Sammie Sias was misusing tax dollars and mistreating children at Jamestown Community Center.

“I don’t know the statute of a whistle blower is, will be or whether she will get that or not. That’s going to be up to the investigation and the authorities to decide that. We appreciate her coming forward. I wish she would have done it a lot sooner,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.

Hilton sent her accusation after being fired from Jamestown. As part of the commission’s response, Hilton was removed from the Aviation Commission, where she was Chairwoman, and the commissioners removed Sias who was the commission’s liaison.

Hilton was appointed to the Airport Commission by Sias, who admitted to a 20 year affair with her.

“The commission wanted to err on the side of making sure nobody got hurt, nobody got in an awkward situation. By removing both, it kind of cleared it up,” said Commissioner Marion Williams.

But was removing Hilton a punishment for a whistle blower?

“I don’t see it that way. I think we got a tense issue all across. What’s happened over twenty years, we just thought it was the right move to take them both off there, for the respect of the community and the respect of the Aviation Commission,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Sean Frantom.

“No one ever said she was wrong in bringing this forward. It has never been discussed, anything like that,” said Commissioner Marion Williams.

“Not a punishment to a whistle blower?”

“Not a punishment to a whistle blower,” said Commissioner Williams.

But some Commissioners say the accusations against Commissioner Sias also cast Hilton in a bad light.

“She implicated herself in some of the items she gave us, and us as a commission thought it was best for us to kind of remove all of that conflict from out there,” said Commissioner Garrett.

Following the end of he investigation, if everyone is cleared, I asked Commissioner Garrett if Sias and Hilton would be welcomed back to the airport. His answer: No.

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