News: CJ Exclusives

Hagan Contractor Applications Raise Questions

Senator’s husband claims son worked 76 hours/week as electrician

RALEIGH — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, a Greensboro attorney, certified to the North Carolina licensing board for electrical contractors that their son Tilden Hagan worked 3,500 hours installing electrical wiring and equipment over a period of 324 days in 2012 — requiring Tilden to work consecutive 76-hour weeks over that period.

Carolina Journal calculated the hours by comparing claims the Hagans made on applications Tilden Hagan filed for North Carolina contracting licenses in the “limited” and “unlimited” categories. On both applications, only one person attested to Tilden’s experience as an electrical installer: Chip Hagan, Tilden’s father. On the application for an unlimited license, a second person attested to Tilden’s experience: William Stewart, Tilden’s brother-in-law.

The executive director of the state board that issues electrical contracting licenses told CJ the board is obliged to investigate credible information challenging any license application, though he would not comment specifically on the Hagan applications.

Holding an unlimited license affords Tilden the ability to manage projects of a greater scope and monetary value than he could perform with a limited license. The experience requirements for an unlimited license are greater, but the licensing board allows applicants to use personal recommendations from people claiming to be supervisors without requiring any documentation to back up those claims.

Both Chip and Tilden Hagan claimed the work took place at Solardyne, the solar energy company that was recognized formally in August 2010 by the state’s Corporations Division in the office of the secretary of state. Initially, Chip and Tilden listed themselves as managers. Chip changed the name of the company to Green State Power in 2012, later adding son-in-law Stewart as a third manager.

As Democratic Sen. Hagan faces a tough re-election campaign against Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Libertarian Sean Haugh, the Hagans’ solar company and its involvement in federal grants for another Hagan-owned company have become the focus of news stories and campaign commercials from the Tillis campaign, the Hagan campaign and independent organizations.

As part of Tilden’s application for a limited license, on Jan. 25, 2012, Chip Hagan certified to the board that he was his son’s manager at Solardyne, and that Tilden had worked 5,000 hours. Less than 11 months later, Dec. 13, 2012, as Tilden applied for an unlimited license, Chip Hagan stated, “As the manager of the company I am able to attest that he has performed 8,500 hours of work to date.”

Working an additional 3,500 hours 46 weeks would have required Tilden to work consecutive 76-hour weeks in electrical installation.

Neither Chip Hagan nor Tilden Hagan has responded to emails or phone messages from CJ seeking information about the experience they claimed on the two license applications.

While Tilden’s father claimed to be his supervisor on one form, his brother-in-law William Stewart claimed to be Tilden’s supervisor on another. Stewart is married to Tilden Hagan’s sister.

On a form titled, “Supervise and Direct Statement,” listing himself as president of Green State Power, Stewart stated, “This is to certify that I have known Charles Tilden Hagan IV for approximately 20 years; that I am knowledgeable of his/her electrical experience; and that in my opinion he/she does have the ability to satisfactorily supervise and direct all electrical wiring or electrical installation work done by an electrical contracting business in the UNLIMITED classification.”

The North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors is the licensing and regulatory agency for N.C electricians. Applicants seeking a limited, intermediate, unlimited or special must complete an application and take an exam. The application relies heavily on primary work experience, and that experience needs to be certified by the applicant’s employers. The applications are public information.

CJ reviewed Tilden Hagan’s applications with the board’s executive director Tim Norman. Norman said he has an obligation to investigate all complaints as well as credible information that may involve a license application. He said he could not comment on Tilden Hagan’s applications.

An unlimited license requires a minimum of seven years’ experience, including five years of primary experience in electrical installation. Some credit is allowed for other activities. A limited license requires a minimum of four years experience including two years of primary experience in electrical installation. One year is equivalent to 2,000 hours. Those with a limited license were restricted to contracts of less than $40,000. That threshold was recently changed to $50,000.

First application flagged

On Sept. 17, 2011, one year after the Hagan family launched their solar energy company, Tilden Hagen signed his initial application for the limited classification electrical contractor license. He stated that he had been employed at Solardyne since February 2009, a period of two years and eight months, and listed his current position as president. Chip Hagan completed the “Employer Statement Form” claiming Tilden Hagan had worked 4,000 hours as an electrician. Chip Hagan signed the form as the manager of Solardyne.

Tilden Hagan’s work experience caught the attention of a reviewer at the licensing board. A handwritten note on the application reads, “Need clarification on experience.”

On Jan. 25, 2012, Chip Hagan prepared a “Clarification of Experience” statement certifying that Tilden had then accumulated 5,000 hours of primary work experience. “As the manager of the company I am able to attest that he has done so for two and a half years and performed 5,000 hours of work to date,” he wrote.

After Tilden Hagan passed his exam in May 2012, the board granted him a limited category electrical contractor license. He applied to take the exam for an unlimited contractor license Nov. 27. On Dec. 13, Chip stated that Tilden had accumulated 8,500 hours of experience. Tilden was issued his unlimited contractor license June 5, 2013.

But there are other issues raised by the information contained in Tilden Hagan’s first application.

Tilden Hagan’s work experience at Solardyne also coincides with his stated time as a medical school student. His LinkedIn page states he was enrolled in the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill from January 2009 to August 2011 — essentially the same time period he claimed to have worked 4,000 hours at Solardyne.

His stated experience with Solardyne also is at odds with other public records, because Solardyne was not created until August 2010. The solardynenc.com website domain was reserved and purchased Aug. 8, 2010, by Tilden Hagan using his parents’ home address in Greensboro as the site administrator’s address. The following day Chip Hagan filed documents with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office creating Solardyne, listing himself and Tilden Hagan as the company managers.

Tilden Hagan earned an engineering degree from Duke University in 2005. He worked in California for a biomedical electrical device design engineer before returning to work for his mother’s first campaign for the U. S. Senate in 2008. Several Internet sources state he started medical school in January 2009. His LinkedIn page also states under education — “UNC Chapel Hill — MD/PHD, Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, 2008-2016 (expected).”

Solar project at house

Tilden Hagan has an eight-panel solar system in the back yard of his home in Chapel Hill. CJ has been unable to determine when it was installed, but Hagan has touted it and his company on the website of energysage.com, a Massachusetts-based business that promotes the financing of solar installations.

Tilden listed the system at his home, stating “Green State Power [the company he owns] designed a creative custom racking structure to mount the modules over my back-yard patio. … Green State Power came out a year after my system was installed to check all the wiring and tighten everything up and we haven’t had any problems with the system since it was installed.”

Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.