Candidates refute claims on the radio

Published 12:12 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

NATCHEZ — Two political candidates who were listed as having outstanding debts on file at the Adams County Courthouse chose to respond to the issue on paid radio station advertisement interviews Tuesday night.

In separate, paid interviews on WTYJ, Adams County Circuit Clerk candidate Britt Gibson and Adams County Chancery Court Clerk candidate Willie B. Jones defended their records regarding facts published in the Tuesday edition of The Natchez Democrat.

Tuesday’s article reported that records on file at the Adams County Courthouse show Gibson has more than $400,000 in tax liens and other debt judgments against him and the business he owns. Courthouse documents showed that Jones had a single private judgment still on the books of approximately $4,000.

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Gibson and his father, Clay Gibson, spoke in the interview along with former Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binky” Vines.

The tax liabilities, Britt Gibson said, were inherited from his father. His father operated the family’s contracting business before Britt Gibson took over.

“Not all of the facts were brought out and not all of the facts were brought out and some of the dates might have been incorrect,” Britt Gibson said.

“They were definitely incorrect,” Clay Gibson said.

“All of these taxes were my liability because Britt had a business, Gibson Interiors LLC that I would purchase carpet from through Carpet One because he had an account with Carpet One,” Clay Gibson said.

Neither Britt Gibson nor Clay Gibson said the tax liens and judgments were incorrect, only that both men shared the responsibility.

Vines made a purportedly impromptu appearance in the interview, apparently talking from the studio with the Gibsons.

“Britt, I happened to be going down the street and heard you, and I had to stop by. I wouldn’t be M.L. “Binky” Vines if I didn’t get involved so let’s just call it like it is,” Vines said on air. “This young man and his family have been attacked. They’ve been viciously attacked from these articles. They’re lies.”

Vines did not explain why the public records at the courthouse or the article referencing the records are “lies.”

Jones claimed on the air to be in possession of a record that showed his debt obligation was cleared.

“In my hands, and my lawyer here is present, it will show you that Willie B. Jones, that bill that they say Willie B. Jones owe almost 20 years ago, I have it right here in my hand that it’s paid,” he said.

Until the official record is cleared at the courthouse, legally, the debt judgment against Jones remains active.

Democrat publisher Kevin Cooper said that the newspaper stands by its original article.

“We offered both Mr. Gibson and Mr. Jones an opportunity to explain the records prior to our publishing the article,” he said. “Their comments were included in the original article.

“If either of the candidates has evidence that the records that are on file at the courthouse are incorrect, please let us know,” he said. “It’s possible, particularly with the age of the judgment against Mr. Jones that the creditor was paid, but never cleared the issue with the courts.

“We’ll be happy to review any information candidates have and work with the candidates and the courthouse offices to get the records set straight.”

Neither Jones or Gibson returned calls from The Democrat Wednesday.

Audio recordings of the two interviews can be downloaded at the links above or at the following links: for Willie B. Jones’ interview for Britt Gibson’s interview