The website of Chapin Mayor Skip Wilson’s company had claimed for a year that he graduated from the University of South Carolina.
Wilson, who is seeking re-election to a second four-year term in November, attended USC in the mid-1970s but did not graduate from the school. He said a company staffer mistakenly posted the incorrect information, which was discovered by a citizen in August.
“I was unaware of this statement on the website, but I take full responsibility for the error and I sincerely apologize for any misrepresentation it may have created,” he said. “I take full ownership of the mistake.”
His admission provides new political ammunition for critics upset with the controversialmayor. Critics accuse him of making single-handed decisions about town finances and staffing and about what issues Town Council considers
Wilson is opposed for re-election by two challengers on Nov. 7.Chapin, a town of 1,500 residents near Lake Murray, is the business and political hub of northern Lexington County.
“Honesty is the number one thing in the conduct of political office,” said challenger ShaylaFlores, a College of Charleston student. “While mistakes happen, it’s important to watch ourselves and pay close attention to details.”
The other challenger, former town attorney David Knight, said it’s up to voters to decide about the importance of the “misrepresentation of credentials.” Knight was let go by Wilson more than two years ago.
The mistake by unidentified staff members appeared on the website of the Wilson Financial Group for about a year, his campaign manager, Clare Morris, said.
“His employees created the site and he did not review it at all, which he should have,” she said. “If he had reviewed it, he could have corrected it.”
Wilson said he studied business at USC from 1976-78 after serving three years in the Navy. He left USC for a job in Atlanta, receiving an associate’s degree in business administration from Georgia Piedmont Technical College in December 1982, he said.
Questions about his education were raised by Fred Stuart, a retired accountant who supported longtime former Mayor Stan Shealy in a ballot showdown in 2013 that Wilson won.
“Some things he’s said and does, he should know better,” Stuart said of Wilson.
Morris described Stuart as “a constant critic” of Wilson, emailing him more than 40 times during the past 3 years with complaints.
After spotting the information on the Wilson Financial Group’s website, Stuart checked with USC and was told Wilson did not have a degree from the school, Stuart said.
Anyone can check on a student’s attendance and graduation, USC spokesman Jeff Stensland said.
Wilson said he learned from a friend’s text message on Aug. 25 that questions were being asked about his USC education. After four phone calls to digital specialists, the company’s website was taken down Sept. 1 to remove the claim, he said. The website, skipwilsonfinancial.com, has not been restored, he said.
When it’s back up, the website will say he attended USC, he said.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483