Augusta mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams blamed a lack of correspondence from three creditors for about $70,000 in unpaid debts, she told The Augusta Chronicle on Tuesday.
Blocker-Adams attributed the debts, associated with a foreclosure on her former North Augusta home, a repossessed car and a bank loan she took out with her ex-husband, who recently died, to a darker period of her life in the mid-1990s. She said she had a miscarriage, got divorced and was saddled with a “balloon” mortgage that tripled her payment within three years.
“Real hardship and challenges happened to me in a very short period of time, and it just sort of spiraled from there,” Blocker-Adams said.
Allen LaFavor, who sold his mother’s home to Blocker-Adams, then foreclosed on her after she failed to make payments, told a different story. LaFavor said he hoped Blocker-Adams had won election the first time she ran for mayor, in 2005, so he could have garnished her wages.
“She’d pay next month; that was always the story,” LaFavor said. “She never did dispute the fact that she owed it; she just didn’t pay it.”
The court determined that after the foreclosure, Blocker-Adams owed LaFavor and his two siblings about $13,000, of which she has paid less than $1,000, he said. Liens don’t work because Blocker-Adams owns no property and reports insufficient income to attach a lien or garnishment to, he said.
Blocker-Adams, who campaigns on a pro-business platform, said she had contacted two of the three creditors Monday after learning that three Aiken County court judgments from 1997, 2001 and 2002 seeking the money had been distributed to the news media.
“After making payments between 1997 and 2005, it was my understanding these debts were satisfied,” Blocker-Adams said. “There hasn’t been any communication from these creditors since 2005 or 2006.”
LaFavor said he tried to reach Blocker-Adams last week. Richmond County court records show that a collection agency for Ford Motor Co. attempted to place a lien on her property last September for $11,210 but found nothing to attach it to.
According to Blocker-Adams, two of the creditors told her Monday she had outstanding balances, “but they needed to research it further to see what that amount was …”
“The creditors are having to really dig as they are not or have not been pursuing this as an unpaid debt,” she said.
Blocker-Adams said she’ll pay whatever she owes.
Aiken County court records show little action on the judgments since 2004, although debt collectors don’t always inform the courts whether debtors meet their obligations.
In a 2001 response to Security Federal Bank, Blocker-Adams said she had had “chronic cash flow problems for the past five years” and was unable to meet the bank’s payment plan of $673.83 a month.
Blocker-Adams said she wasn’t trying, as a public speaker, radio host and candidate for elective office in 2005, 2006 and now, to hide from them.
“If there was all of these obligations, I’m here and I’m one of the most visible people in Augusta,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who experience what I experienced on a daily basis, but I’m still standing. … I’ve experienced what 90 percent of people have; mine is just exposed now.”