Bethany Krajelis Nov. 1, 2012, 1:57pm

Thomas Gibbons has accused his Republican opponent for Madison County State’s Attorney of being involved in “a shady real estate deal.”

Gibbons, who seeks election to the position he was appointed to in 2010, said Thursday that Amy Sholar paid Piasa Area Habitat for Humanity $500 in 2002 for two adjacent lots on Bluff Street in Alton and lost them in 2006 after failing to pay property taxes on either of them.

Sholar, however, said in a statement released Thursday that Gibbons is once again “distorting the facts, exaggerating the situation and drawing false conclusions.”

Gibbons said Sholar bought two lots in “an upscale, downtown Alton neighborhood” in 2002. She didn’t pay property taxes on either lot for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004, Gibbons said, adding that they were later sold in 2006 for nonpayment of taxes.

“At the time Sholar received and subsequently lost the property, she was the planning coordinator for the city of Alton. Her job was to help develop the community,” Gibbons said in a statement. “Instead, Sholar squandered an opportunity to do good for the community she was paid to serve by failing to even pay property taxes or bring her payments current for the three consecutive years.”

Gibbons contends the situation raises several questions, including how Sholar was able to buy the properties at a price below market level and why they weren’t listed on her 2004 bankruptcy filing.

Sholar said if Gibbons believes she received the property for less than market value, “he obviously isn’t familiar with that part of Alton.”

She said the property she purchased in 2002 was next to a property she and her now ex-husband were renovating. Sholar added that “the adjacent house was a renovation property removed from the demolition list in Alton and purchased for just $1,000.”

In addition, Sholar said that the property Gibbons is referring to was awarded to her ex-husband in their 2004 divorce decree and was sold for taxes in 2006.

"Tom Gibbons wants the voters to judge me based on his distortions and exaggerations from events of nearly a decade ago,” Sholar said in a statement. “I want the voters to judge Tom Gibbons on his conduct while State's Attorney during the past 23 months.”

During his time in office, Sholar claims he has focused more on his election rather than office and has “allowed his private attorney friends to draw big taxpayer funded salaries with benefits only to serve the county for a few days each week.”

Gibbons, however, said many of the private attorneys who serve as contract or part-time assistant state’s attorneys do a substaintial amount of work for the office and like all county employees, have to pay for benefits if they want them.

She also claims that Gibbons “has consistently failed to pay his property taxes on time and is even now behind on his payment that was due on October 5” and “despite drawing a taxpayer salary of $165,000 himself, his ex-wife had to file an emergency motion alleging that he had not paid child support in four months.”

Gibbons responded to Sholar's allegations Thursday afternoon, saying that there was a dispute over payment of property taxes in his divorce, but that it was resolved.

Everything, he said, was paid before it reached the point of auction. Gibbons added that his ex-wife and her husband live in the home and as such, have the legal obligation to pay property taxes.

As for Sholar's allegation over child support, Gibbons said his opponent is either being dishonest or doesn't know how to read a court order, neither of which are good qualities for a state's attorney.

Gibbons said "there is a court order that contradicts" his opponent's allegations. The order, he said, shows he paid and is up-to-date on all of his child support payments.

Saying he finds it disgusting to drag divorces and personal matters into a campaign, Gibbons said he brought up Sholar’s property tax situation and bankruptcy because he believes they highlight issues important to the race.

These situations, Gibbons said, shows a long series of poor financial decisions, something he said voters should care about because whoever they elect state’s attorney next week will be responsible for handling about $3 million in taxpayer money.

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