Commotion over Steinburg deal leads to changes in contracting

By on August 21, 2018

Commissioner Bobby Hanig

State Rep. Bob Steinburg.

In response to what Currituck County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bobby Hanig called a “politically motivated” story, the county has changed the way it will  handle contracts involving elected officials.

In July, the Daily Advance reported that Currituck paid a private company owned by state Rep. Bob Steinburg $50,000 to promote and market Battle in the Blue Ridge, an NCAA basketball tournament the county is sponsoring in Asheville this fall.

“Someone chose to use that as a political tool,” to smear Steinburg, Hanig said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “If Steinburg didn’t win the primary, it wouldn’t have been newsworthy.”

The contract process, between Steinburg’s company and the county’s tourism department, followed the letter of the law,  Hanig said. State law requires the county’s tourism department to spend a percentage of occupancy tax revenue on marketing, and this year, that percentage is just over $2 million, Hanig said.

The $50,000 spent on marketing the county through the tournament is about one-half of 1 percent of the total expenditures required by state statute, he added.

“What was frustrating was that people were saying ‘it doesn’t look good or it smells bad,’ but nobody could quantify that statement to me,” Hanig said.

“This was a politically motivated story,” he added. “You get public outcry, public comments and the story isn’t going away.”

Currituck has top billing in the tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Battle in the Blue Ridge at U.S. Cellular Center will host the University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Arkansas State; Gardner-Webb; and Eastern Illinois.

Hanig and Steinburg won their May GOP primaries. Hanig defeated incumbent Rep. Beverly Boswell for the Republican nomination in state House District 6, while Steinburg captured the GOP nod for Senate District 1.

During the public comment period at the Aug. 6 Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Moyock businessman Harvey V. Cole told commissioners that the deal was a proverbial black eye for Steinburg, the county and whoever else was involved.

“It stinks to heaven and back,” he said.

Also during the Aug. 6 meeting, Commissioner Kitty Etheridge talked about how the county’s contract with Steinburg might have been perceived, and said the board had an obligation to ensure the public’s trust. She suggested the county establish guidelines for contracting with public officials.

“It’s come to everyone’s realization that we’ve got to make a change,” Hanig said during Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

After a lengthy presentation by County Manager Dan Scanlon, commissioners unanimously approved a change in the county’s ordinances.

Before, the process of entering contracts was delegated to Scanlon and County Attorney Ike McRee, and in most cases, they weren’t brought before the Board of Commissioners for discussion.

Under the revised ordinance, the county manager and the county attorney cannot execute a contract with an elected official representing Currituck without bringing it before the board, McRee said.

Once approved, the contract must be posted publicly, he added.

“I really feel what this is doing is protecting the staff and protecting the elected officials from undue scrutiny from the public, from the media, and from other elected officials,” Hanig said, before the board voted on the change.

He reiterated those comments Tuesday morning.

“The reason we have the ordinance is to protect county staff and elected officials, and for transparency,” he said.





  • Runnerguy45

    Hanig is wrong and that attitude just cost him a vote.

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 2:54 am
  • Obxcmr

    Hanig is just as corrupt as Steinburg! Both of them should pull out of the race and let REAL conservatives run.

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 10:25 am
  • tired voter

    Hanig, just saw he and Steinburg at a public event, they mostly talked to each other, birds if a feather

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 1:06 pm
  • Manteo Guy

    If the contract met State requirements and was vetted by the attorney, whats the big deal…other than partisan politics?

    Wednesday, Aug 22 @ 7:10 pm
  • Sean

    What is the big deal on this! Other than someone just trying to pick. It looks like everything is in order with the way this was done. The company has to be payed for promoting the games. Is just the wrong owner huh? If your gonna,complain about the way this was done then you better just keep on going because it’s like this across the board with politicans. That’s one reason why they are there.

    Thursday, Aug 23 @ 6:56 am
  • proofreader – REALLY?

    I just hope it is spelled correctly in all the advertising!

    Thursday, Aug 23 @ 1:37 pm
  • Steve G.

    The issue with this is that it went directly against Currituck policy. Why is no one talking about the fact that their policies, at the time of this contract, state any event sponsored by Currituck tourism dollars MUST be in Currituck County. Asheville is not in Currituck county.

    Thursday, Aug 23 @ 3:40 pm
  • Correcting Steve G.

    Steve G. This is considered advertisement. So does not apply to what you are talking about. Why would one pay to advertise currituck to the people of currituck, so they will visit Currituck? Ridiculous. They paid to be a main ADVERTISING SPONSOR, at a nation wide aid tournament. Sad how people have made something political that actually is great for our area, and shows that those who are marketing our great county our doing new things. News flash, that is a good thing! As your local businesses. So people watching the game from all over are not relevant to knowing about Currituck and then consider vacationing here? Come on now. Ask Dare tourist department where all they advertise. Also, new reports in the paper are showing the basketball advertisement is producing a lot of traffic.

    Friday, Aug 24 @ 4:10 pm