SC county leaders had 'intimate' dinner with firm

BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) - Beaufort County Council members say a lavish dinner paid for by an engineering firm had nothing to do with that company winning a $1 million contract from the county.

The Beaufort Gazette reports that Councilwoman Laura Von Harten acknowledged that she and three other council members had an "intimate and expensive" dinner with representatives from Thomas & Hutton Engineering. The dinner took place during an August conference on Hilton Head Island.

The council voted in October to award the company a contract for work on the Bluffton Parkway. That's on hold after complaints from Dennis Corp., the original contractor on the project.

Von Harten and other council members say the dinner didn't influence their decision. Neither contractor could be reached for comment.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.