Currituck Commissioners Censure Paul Beaumont

By on February 16, 2024

Commissioners Paul Beaumont (left) and Bob White. (Photo credit: Kip Tabb/OBV)

During a contentious and often confusing special meeting of the Currituck County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 15, Commissioner Paul Beaumont was censured by his fellow commissioners by a vote of 5-2.

Chairman Bob White, Vice Chair Selina Jarvis and Commissioners Mike Payment, Mary Etheridge and Owen Etheridge voted in favor of the censure. Commissioners Beaumont and Kevin McCord voted nay.

The censure resolution cited Beaumont for “improperly [disclosing] contents of conversations from the closed session of the Board” and stated that he “made false statements to the Daily Advance stating the county manager’s contract ‘was voted on not be renewed’ and that Commissioner Mike Payment was somehow involved.”

The most damning complaint, though, might have been that Beaumont caused “through his interactions with Insight Global [an international job search company], a position for county manager to be created. No such position was available or agreed and voted upon by the board of commissioners.”

In essence, the resolution accused Beaumont of improperly and inaccurately leaking information that the commissioners had decided not to renew the contract of County Manger Ike McRee at a closed meeting in October and then launching an unauthorized search to hire a replacement for him.

After White read the censure resolution, Beaumont pushed back, asking whether commissioners would “agree the [North Carolina] School of Government is a trusted and reliable resource [for] illegal matters process and procedures?”

Beaumont indicated that based on his correspondence with the School of Government and his own research, he had “become very knowledgeable about closed sessions.” Based on that knowledge, he told the commissioners, his release of information indicating McRee’s contract would not be renewed was not a violation of closed session regulations.

“Once the decision had been made by the BOC, the results are no longer…protected by the closed session,” he told the commissioners.

But McRee and County Attorney Megan Morgan pointed out that any final decision on McRee’s contract would first require a public meeting.

Commissioner Mary Etheridge indicated that Beaumont was wrong in stating the commissioners decided not to renew McRee’s contract at the October closed meeting. She noted that at that meeting, the commissioners asked McRee to address their concerns at the upcoming January meeting and at that time additional action might be taken.

“We never voted on it” at the January meeting, she added. “We were asked our opinion [about McRee] and there was quite some discussion on it.” According to a Jan. 31 statement from White, McRee’s contract has now been renewed for three more years.

According to the censure resolution, White did ask Beaumont at one point about what would be involved in using a job search company. “This was a general inquiry about dealing with this headhunting group,” White said during the Feb. 15 commissioners’ meeting. “None of us up here have dealt with a headhunting group except Commissioner Beaumont.”

White also stated at the meeting that on or before Jan. 2, Insight Global contacted Beaumont indicating they wanted to have something posted that first week of the month. There was some confusion over what the job title was, with Beaumont telling the search firm that the position the county needed to fill was county manager.

At that time, he told Global Insight, according to White, that the “position needs to be filled by the second week of January.” The position was then created and posted, although it is unclear if it was posted on the Insight website or an Insight employee’s LinkedIn page.

Regardless of where it was posted, it is apparent candidates were found for the position. In his January 31 statement, White wrote that “In January, Paul Beaumont informed me that he had three potential candidates for the County Manager’s position.”

For his part, Beaumont denied authorizing any action on the part of Insight Global.

“My first awareness about this rogue job posting came when Commissioner Bob White called me on the 11th of January,” he said. He went on to say that after learning of the job posting, he immediately reached out to Insight Global.

“I confronted [them] during that phone conversation and said you were not authorized to do this,” he asserted

After an hour and 20 minutes of discussion White called for a motion to accept the resolution to censure.

Mary Etheridge made the motion, observing that, “Because of the timeline evidence that was presented tonight…I move to accept the resolution.”

There was a considerable delay before a second to the motion was made, with Payment finally speaking and explaining his reasoning.

“What this boils down to is stuff got out. I don’t know how [the information] got out…There are some facts that are hard to deny in some of this, I guess,” he said.

Before casting her vote, Jarvis echoed Payment’s statement, asserting that the fact that a job opening for county manager was posted did not “happen by accident.”

With a motion and a second, White called for a vote. Owen Etheridge, who had been censured by the board five year earlier, did not indicate a vote, but by North Carolina law, according to White, a non-response is recorded as a vote to confirm a motion.

The Feb. 15 agenda also included an item to remove Beaumont from board assignments, but that was tabled until the next board meeting on Feb. 19.

 



Comments

  • Arthur Pewty

    They should have a recording of “Yakety Sax” playing on loop for the duration of their meetings.

    Friday, Feb 16 @ 9:46 pm
  • Rocky the Rockfish

    Hee Haw in action

    Saturday, Feb 17 @ 4:39 am
  • Whalehead

    The comment “ stuff got out” illuminates the way these commissioners want to operate.
    We can’t have that can we?

    Saturday, Feb 17 @ 7:01 am
  • OBX Dan

    FINALLY firing “Ike” McRee? What a missed opportunity to make Currituck County Great Again!

    Sunday, Feb 18 @ 7:34 am
  • Obxserver

    Adversity like this offers a great opportunity for the Board to get together and work on their comity. Not comedy…..comity. Wishing them well.

    Sunday, Feb 18 @ 10:02 am
  • Alice

    So sick of the circus that is Currituck County politics. Homeowners in Corolla – we need to encourage more owners to register to vote so we can work to clean house on this insanity. I stand in support of Paul Beaumont.

    Sunday, Feb 18 @ 1:16 pm