RALEIGH – As sure as the sun rises, some people in positions of power and influence will use it to make a quick buck. Politicians are prime example of how government influence creates opportunities for cronyism. That’s why so many politicians are elected to office with a main street background, and leave millionaires.
Well plenty of cronyism goes on in state government, even local government, and the Old North State is no exception – Republicans and Democrats do it.
The latest example of curious business dealings from a state lawmaker center around Republican candidate for state senate Bob Steinburg, who isn’t exactly a conservative.
“Currituck County has paid a private company owned by state Rep. Bob Steinburg $50,000 to promote and market an NCAA basketball tournament the county is sponsoring in Asheville this fall called the “Battle in the Blue Ridge.”
Currituck County Manager Dan Scanlon and Steinburg signed the sponsorship deal in December, after Steinburg, R-Chowan, approached county officials about sponsoring the tournament through his company, the WolfeStein Group, both men said in interviews Wednesday.
Steinburg strongly rejected any suggestion of impropriety or a quid pro quo with the deal, given he asked one of the counties he represents in the state House to contract with him. Being a state lawmaker is a part-time job and lawmakers are allowed to hold other jobs, he said.
Steinburg said he cleared the potential arrangement with state ethics officials before approaching Currituck last year.
“Everything is above board,” Steinburg said. “If it had been problematic, I never would have done it.””
If the politician himself says there is nothing to see here, then it’s probably worth a look. The Dailyhaymaker took a look and what they found raises more questions about the ethics of this $50,000 payout for Steinburg.
“Steinburg formed his company in January 2017. First, my sources in Currituck tell me that Steinburg was hitting the county up for money for this scheme as early as 2016. Those initial efforts, I’m told, were unsuccessful.
Second, my moles in Currituck tell me that only three of the seven members of the county board were informed of the deal. One of the three, I’m told, was commissioner Bobby Hanig, a close Steinburg political lieutenant who is running for NC House in November.
I am also told the notification did not occur at an official commissioner meeting, but at an off-site retreat.”
There were no bids, no vote, and no indication that county taxpayers had a proper say in spending this money. What’s more, DH has emails that seem to indicate Steinburg was A) doing private business on state time, and B) literally urging deals that benefit Asheville, not his constituency in Currituck, who paid him the $50,000.