RALEIGH, N.C., Sept. 26 (UPI) -- North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and statehouse Speaker Thom TIllis both benefited from the stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009 to help the country recover from the Great Recession.
Hagan, a Democrat, voted for the bill and called it "the best way forward for working families across North Carolina."
According to a report from Politico, a company co-owned by Hagan's husband, Chip, reaped some of those benefits directly.
JDC Manufacturing received nearly $390,000 in federal grants and tax credits for energy projects, said the report, which cited public records and information provided by the company.
Tillis, Kagan's Republican challenger, voted in 2010 to allow North Carolina to participate in a stimulus-funded federal energy tax credit program. He owns at least $50,000 in stock in Aquesta Bank, which benefited from the tax credit program.
Both Hagan and Tillis denied any improper action.
In a statement, Hagan's campaign said she was not involved in her husband's company obtaining federal funding.
"Kay is not involved in her husband's business and had no part in helping JDC apply for or receive these grants," spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said. "Her only involvement was when she made sure that a respected ethics attorney was consulted to ensure that it was appropriate, and the attorney found that it was."
Senate rules say lawmakers must only recuse themselves from voting for legislation if it would benefit just a narrow group of people that includes the senator specifically, while spouses are allowed to enter into government contracts so long as the contract is not a result of improper influence.
Tillis holds "founders investment private stock" in Aquesta, in Cornelius, N.C. He holds between $50,000 and $100,000 in stock, as well as loans worth between $30,00 and $100,000. Aquesta invested $3 million in a company building a solar farm, and received $1.375 million in federal tax credits under the stimulus; Tillis did not personally receive any of the tax credits.
A spokesman for the Tillis campaign said the candidate does not have any influence over the bank's operations or its project investments.
While the Republican has made his opposition to "big government handouts and bailouts" a centerpiece of his campaign, a spokesman said the candidate supported certain incentives.
"Thom Tillis believes that tax incentives and tax credits should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on their potential impact on taxpayers and their potential for job creation," spokesman Daniel Keylin said. "His position is not blanket opposition or support for these types of programs but, rather, a case-by-case evaluation process."
The race between Kagan and Tillis is one of the most closely watched of the midterms, and may be key in determining whether Republicans are able to wrest Senate control from Democrats. While the race has been tight, Kagan has opened up a small lead in recent polls, showing the incumbent with an average of 3 to 4 points over her challenger.