Wednesday, 12 December 2018 18:22

Goodwin, McKissick have questions for Harris about alleged 9th District election fraud

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ROCKINGHAM - Two high-profile state Democrats have several questions they’d like Mark Harris to answer regarding the alleged Bladen County ballot harvesting in the 9th Congressional District race.

Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the state Democratic Party, and Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, held a press conference Tuesday wanting to know just how much Harris knew about what was going on.

“Mark Harris must answer to the voters about what he knew, and when,” said Goodwin, a Hamlet native and former state representative. “North Carolina’s voters deserve to know the truth about the election fraud perpetrated by his campaign.”

The controversy surrounds Leslie McRae Dowless, a convicted felon and political operative who was paid by Harris’ chief campaign strategist “for possible illegal get-out-the-vote” efforts, according to the Carolina Journal.

Dowless is accused of collecting absentee ballots “in apparent violation of state law” to tip the election in Harris’ favor, the New York Times reports.

The State Board of Elections and Ethics refused to certify Harris’ victory over Democratic challenger Dan McCready and Libertarian Jeff Scott after board member Joshua Malcolm brought up allegations of voter fraud in Bladen County — one of the two counties in the district where Harris had a majority of the votes. The other was Union County.

The district also includes Richmond, Scotland, Robeson (where Malcolm is from), Anson, and parts of Mecklenburg and Cumberland counties, all of which went for McCready.

Malcolm was appointed as chairman of the state board last week following the resignation of Andy Penry.

“Many elected leaders – both in North Carolina and across the country – have made their voice heard about this growing Republican scandal,” Goodwin said. “There has been one voice, however, that has been absent from much of this election scandal: Mark Harris.”

Harris did break his week-long silence last Friday in a video, saying he was unaware of any wrongdoing and that his campaign was cooperating with the investigation.

“However, if this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side to such a level that it could change the outcome of the election, then I would wholeheartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results,” Harris said.

On Wednesday, the General Assembly passed a bill that would require a filing period and primary, allowing all five recognized political parties- including the Green and Constitution parties- to participate, according to the Carolina Journal.

McKissick raised concerns about the impact on minority voters.

“African-Americans and Native Americans are the central victims of this Republican scandal,” he said. “These unreturned ballots are disproportionately minority voters.”

The state Democratic Party released a list of questions Goodwin and McKissick have for Harris and his campaign:

  • When did you first meet McCrae Dowless?
  • Who introduced you?
  • Why did you hire him in 2018? What did you think Dowless was being hired to do? Did you perform a background check?
  • Did you promise McCrae Dowless a $40,000 cash win bonus if you won the election? 
  • Why did you recommend Dowless to Charlotte City Council candidate Pete Givens? What did you mean that he had a “process”?
  • McCrae Dowless admitted to conducting absentee ballot fraud in 2016, something that was covered by This American Life. Were you aware of this?
  • Did you know that Dowless had offered to work for Congressman (Robert) Pittenger in 2016 and 2018? Did you know that Pittenger refused to hire him? Did you know why?
  • Did you see the results in the Bladen County GOP primary absentee mail-in vote? Did you raise any questions about those results? Did you know that Pittenger raised questions about those results?
  • Were you aware he worked for your opponent, Todd Johnson, in the 2016 Republican primary? Were you aware that your opponent got 98 percent of the mail-in absentee ballot vote in Bladen County during that election?
  • Why did Harris spend so much time in Bladen, when he’s from Charlotte and Bladen represents such a small percentage of the overall vote? In his final FEC report, he reported debt for “Reimbursement Payment for Bladen Absentee, Early Voting Poll Workers; Reimbursement Door to Door.” What services did his campaign receive for $34,000?

“Getting to the bottom of this Republican scandal is about showing minority communities across the state that their voice matters,” McKissick said. “This is about restoring public trust in our elections, especially among community that too often feel that they’re swept aside.”

Records show only 905 votes separate Harris from McCready. Libertarian Jeff Scott received a total of 5,130 votes.

The 9th District race was the tightest congressional contest in the state.

Multiple media outlets report Harris has already spent time in Washington, D.C. preparing to take Pittenger’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Harris defeated the incumbent in the May Republican primary.

The 116th Congress is scheduled to go into session on Jan. 3.


Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 18:34