Raleigh, N.C. — The state Senate on Monday gave final legislative approval to Charlton Allen's nomination to sit on the six-member Industrial Commission, despite criticism of his views on the minimum wage and questions about his extracurricular activities as a college student and law student.
Senators voted 31-18 to confirm Gov. Pat McCrory's pick to sit on the panel that resolves disputes over workers compensation claims. The vote was mainly along party lines, with all Democrats voting against and all but one Republican voting for the pick. Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, voted against the nomination.
Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, challenged the fact that Allen, a Mooresville lawyer, did not approve of the minimum wage, saying he could not be counted on to give a fair shake to employees coming before the commission.
Other criticism focused on Allen's time in college, particularly his service on the Carolina Review, a student publication. The Independent Weekly publication and liberal groups have alleged Allen has a history of racially tinged actions and anti-Semitic writings, accusations that Allen denies and calls "grossly unfair."
Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said that he gave Allen a chance to "clear the air" during a committee meeting.
"He failed to do so. That gives me deep, deep concern," McKissick said.
But other senators came to Allen's defense.
"All I can say is thank God nobody asked me about my college says," said Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union. He called Allen "qualified" and added, "his character should not be questioned."
Sens. Fletcher Hartsell, R- Cabarrus, and Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, also rose to Allen's defense, both having met him years earlier. Hartsell read a letter from Allen's wife on the Senate floor.
Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said he believed Allen answered questions in the committee fully.
"I though the gentleman was about as frank as he could be," Brown said.
The House has already approved Allen's nomination, so the Senate approval clears the way for him to be sworn in.