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Democrats object to McCrory nominee for NC workers’ comp panel

By John Frank and Patrick Gannon
jfrank@newsobserver.com pgannon@ncinsider.com

Democrats are raising objections to Gov. Pat McCrory’s nominee to a panel that considers workers’ compensation cases, saying Charlton Allen’s record shows he is “against workers’ rights.”

The Republican-dominated House Rules Committee overwhelmingly approved a resolution by voice vote Thursday to confirm Allen to the N.C. Industrial Commission.

A few Democrats voted against the confirmation after House Minority Leader Larry Hall raised concerns about Allen’s past statements.

The state Democratic Party has also questioned whether Allen had the experience necessary in “workplace matters.”

“What’s at stake here is the Industrial Commission’s objectivity,” said Patsy Keever, vice chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. “If Gov. McCrory stacks the deck, corporations might no longer be held responsible for helping workers injured on their watch. Instead, those costs would shift to taxpayers.”

Allen, a Mooresville attorney, ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2012, losing in a Republican primary to Rep. Robert Brawley.

Hall said that in a candidate questionnaire for the conservative Civitas Institute, Allen said he supported a constitutional amendment to strengthen North Carolina’s status as a “right to work” state free of unions, and said employers shouldn’t have to provide paid sick leave or lunch breaks.

Hall questioned whether Allen could be unbiased.

McCrory appointed Allen in March in a statement that cited his 17 years of legal experience. He would serve a six-year term starting July 1.

Allen told the Rules Commission he has handled workers’ compensation cases.

“I intend if I am confirmed to be a balanced, fair, equitable commissioner,” he said.

Rules Chairman Tim Moore, who said he had known Allen since college, came to Allen’s defense after Hall made his remarks.

“I think like all of us, Mr. Allen has certainly been involved in politics ... but I think we all recognize whenever politics is over, we all have a job to do.”

Hall remained unsatisfied. “I’m not sure if you’re saying you don’t really feel that way and you lied to Civitas or you do feel that way and you are not impartial as you represented today,” he said.

Frank: 919-829-4698
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