RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - A part-time employee in the office of House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) has drawn a taxpayer-funded check since April but there’s little evidence to show that he’s done any work.
Dr. Allen Queen was hired as a part-time policy adviser in the Speaker’s Office in early April. Publicly available personnel information reviewed by WBTV shows he was hired at an hourly rate of $63.48 to work a total of 21 hours per week.
Queen, a retired teacher and education professor at UNC Charlotte who lives in Moore’s hometown of Kings Mountain, was hired to advise Moore and other state representatives on education issues.
WBTV began investigating the nature of Queen’s employment in the Speaker’s Office after multiple high-placed Republican sources raised questions regarding his work.
Public records—including emails and minutes from legislative committee meetings—show a very faint paper trail documenting Queen’s work since coming on the job.
Education chair adviser
In response to an inquiry from WBTV, a spokesman for Moore asked a reporter to speak with State Representative Craig Horn (R-Union), who serves as the senior education chairman in the House.
Horn said he had worked extensively with Queen and had frequently sought his advice since April.
“I depend on him to get into the weeds on issues because I can’t get into the weeds on every issue,” Horn said.
Specifically, Horn said Queen had played a pivotal role in assisting with five different committees that Horn chairs.
“Dr. Queen has been helpful to me—specifically to me—but also to my colleagues on the various committees,” Horn said. “Remember, I’ve got (Education) Oversight, I’ve got (Education) Policy, I’ve got School Safety and we’ve been delving into some of these issues in Program Evaluation.”
But there is no document to show Queen has attended any meetings of any of those committees.
WBTV reviewed meeting minutes—which include a sign-in sheet for those in the audience and lists of lawmakers and staff present—for the House Education Committee on K-12 Education and on Higher education. There is no record of Queen attending meetings for either committee.
Similarly, WBTV reviewing attendance records for three task-forces of the House Committee on School Safety. There were five task force meetings for which attendance records were kept in the time since Queen was hired in April through the start of the legislative session in May.
Queen is not among the list of staff from the Speaker’s Office that attended any of the meetings.
When a reporter recited those facts to Horn, he said he had seen Queen at a meeting of the School Safety Committee in Gaston County earlier this year.
Attendance records for the committee’s meetings held around the state were not available.
Attendance, email records
Horn said he consulted with Queen frequently, often by phone or through in-person conversation.
Queen’s legislative office—which doesn’t bare a name tag like almost all other offices of lawmakers and staff members—is just down the hall from Horn; a fact the lawmaker said made it easy to ask questions in-person.
“How often would you say he’s here in the building?” a WBTV reporter asked for Horn.
“I’m going to say twenty percent of the time I’m here,” Horne said.
Officials in the Legislative Services Office, which operates the non-partisan functions of the General Assembly, have, so far, refused to provide swipe-access records that would show the frequency with which Queen visited the legislative building.
But the Speaker’s Office did provide screen shots of Queen’s email inbox and sent items folder for his legislative email address in response to a public records request from WBTV.
A shot of the sent items folder is contained to one page and shows Queen hasn’t sent an email from the account since June.
A review of messages in Queen’s inbox shows he received little to no substantive emails related to his duties as an education policy adviser, either.
Horn said he had email correspondence showing Queen had been actively involved in giving policy advice since taking the job in April.
But records provided by Horn’s office to support his claim included five email threads – amounting to roughly one dozen total emails—all sent since late September.
Time and duty log questions
In response to questions from WBTV, a spokesman for Moore said Queen’s duties involved traveling across the state and meeting with education stakeholders.
“Since his primary responsibilities do not keep him in the legislative building like most of our staff and he can only work part-time as a state employee retiree, he provides a time and duty calendar report of his work for our office. That is attached, along with his resume,” Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer wrote in an email, attaching a Word document with the purported contemporaneous time and duty report.
But metadata embedded in the Word document showed the file had been created by Queen on the morning of November 9, 2018, just one day after WBTV first submitted its request for Queen’s records.
In an interview, Moore pushed back on questions from WBTV about the veracity of the document.
“We asked him to go through his calendar to prepare a document that we could send over to you on the inquiry to show where he had been and what he had done,” Moore said.
“How are we supposed to take your word when, ‘Here’s the contemporaneous notes,’ when the metadata on the document shows another thing?” a WBTV reporter asked Moore.
“Well I don’t know what metadata is but what I can tell you is, whatever his calendar was, we had asked him to put it in a format so it could be shared with you,” he responded.
Speaker points to credentials, work product to defend Queen
In his interview, Moore said Queen asked how he could help efforts by lawmakers to address school safety and his qualifications led to the part-time position being created.
“He’s well known in the community as someone who’s looked to as an expert in education,” Moore said. “He was a 37-year state employee. He was a professor in college, he was a teacher, he was an administrator and he’s done a lot of research.”
Among the work product Moore pointed to were several reports Queen had prepared for Horn.
“He’s actually prepared a couple of reports for Representative Horn,” Moore said.
“We had these meetings around the state on school safety,” Moore continued. “He coordinated that for us. He served as an expert to give us advice on different things about school safety.”
Horn provided five reports, which range from three pages to eight pages.
None of the reports include references to information gleaned from interviews or conversations with North Carolina education leaders.
Only one of the reports deals specifically with school safety.
A review of the reports found just one citation to a scholarly work; the reference was to work Queen had previously published.
In response to our inquiry for this story, Queen prepared a bullet-point statement of his work that included the preparation of the reports.
“I am completing three detailed reports and will provide specific summary reports with recommendations within the next week and I will be finishing the heavily time-consuming report on university laboratory schools nationally within four or five weeks, prior to the conclusion of my contract in December,” Queen said.
In his interview, Moore stood by the work Queen had done this year.
“He’s been very informative to me,” Moore said. “I’ve had more conversations that I can count with him on this.”