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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A New Hanover County School Board member has learned what could happen if you let a domain expire. Elizabeth Redenbaugh discovered she could not re-register her website because someone else owned it. She was surprised to find out who the new owner is.

Redenbaugh did not think anyone would snatch up her web domain when it expired. But elizabethredenbaugh.com now takes you to hotair.com, which is a conservative political blog.

Catherine Fleming, the wife of school board member and New Hanover County Commission candidate Derrick Hickey, purchased the domain.

Redenbaugh recently called Hickey and left a voicemail about the domain.

“I want it released, and I want it released now otherwise I’ll be happy to go to the press and let them know about your dirty tactics,” Redenbaugh said.

So Fleming beat her to it by releasing Redenbaugh’s voicemail to the media, along with an e-mail to Redenbaugh. It reads, in part:

“During the 2008 campaign, you assured everyone that you supported neighborhood schools. People supported you because of that issue. Then you turned your back on them. I anticipate using the domain name to make sure that your record is clear.”

But every story we could find written during Redenbaugh’s 2008 campaign showed her speaking for diversity in schools. Redenbaugh believes people assumed she was for neighborhood schools because, at the time, she was a Republican. Last fall, she switched political parties and is now a Democrat.

Redenbaugh contacted the local and state boards of elections to find out whether this domain debacle violates campaign finance laws. In the meantime, she says this dirty tactic reflects poorly on Hickey.

“I believe we should be role models for our students, and it displays poor internet etiquette,” Redenbaugh said. “At best it’s bullying.”

We tried to get in touch with Fleming and Hickey. Neither returned our calls.

We also contacted the New Hanover County Board of Elections, which said at this point this does not violate any state election laws.

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