North Carolina Secretary of Energy and Natural Resources John Skvarla on Monday asked his staff to seek more information about a 2010 energy grant from the company co-owned by the husband of Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
Skvarla’s request came in response to a memo from his staff. It involved a $250,644 grant to JDC Manufacturing, which is co-owned by Charles “Chip” Hagan III, and also involves work that Hagan’s son, Tilden, did installing solar panels for JDC under the grant.
The unsigned memo questioned whether the grant involved “self-dealing,” said DENR spokesman Drew Elliot, who drafted the Oct. 27 document with the department’s legal staff.
Republican Thom Tillis and his allies have called the grant a conflict of interest after Hagan voted for the 2009 stimulus legislation. The memo gained traction in conservative media this week when it was published by the National Review Online.
Saturday night, WBTV posted a short story on the memo, which was reposted briefly on CharlotteObserver.com. WBTV later took down its version and asked the Observer to do the same.
Hagan’s campaign has said the allegation, as well as the recent memo, is little more than a politically charged attempt by Republicans to influence Tuesday’s election. Skvarla is registered unaffiliated.
“In an act of 11th-hour desperation, it appears that Speaker Tillis is illegally using political allies in the McCrory administration to smear Sen. Hagan’s family and influence an election,” said Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner. “Impartial state officials have already said that the project was appropriate, and independent media investigations have agreed.”
McCrory administration spokesman Josh Ellis called Weiner’s comment “outrageous.”
“A thorough, professional review is being completed about a serious accusation involving taxpayer money,” Ellis said.
Hagan supporters say the memo appears to have at least two inaccuracies that call into question the department’s understanding of the relationships among the companies.
The memo says SolarDyne, managed by Tilden Hagan, was contracted to do work under the grant. The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported that the list of JDC invoices never showed any payments to Tilden Hagan’s company.
A letter from the electrical contractor who did install the solar panels, provided to The N&O by JDC, said Tilden Hagen was one of several people hired to work on the project.
The memo also said William Stewart appeared to be the owner of Circuit Makers, a company that subcontracted on the stimulus-funded project. Stewart, who has since become Hagan’s son-in-law, does not own the company, according to the North Carolina secretary of state.