NC GOPer Supports Probe Into Alleged Fraud Scheme Linked To His Campaign

Mark Harris speaks to the media during a news conference in Matthews, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Harris is leading Dan McCready for the 9th congressional district in a race that is still too close to call. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/AP

Mark Harris, the GOP House candidate whose campaign is tangled up in an absentee ballot fraud investigation in North Carolina, pledged cooperation with the probe, and said he’d support calling a new election — if the investigators turned up proof that the alleged fraud scheme determined the results of the election.

“If this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side, to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election, then I would whole heartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results,” Harris said, while denying knowledge of any wrongdoing.

The remarks, posted Friday in a video on Harris’ Twitter account, took a similar line to the one the North Carolina GOP took Thursday, after previously calling for Harris’ race to be certified immediately.

While under North Carolina law, state election officials could call a new election if it’s found that fraud or irregularities changed the outcome of the race, they are not required to find that the outcome of the race was changed by the illegal activity in order to call a new election.

One provision of the relevant statute says that the election board can take any necessary action steps “to assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption.”

Harris’ campaign is under scrutiny due an apparent absentee ballot operation run by a local operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, who was hired as a contractor by the campaign’s top consulting firm. Both the campaign and the firm, Red Dome Group, have been subpoenaed by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which is among those investigating the allegations. Dowless denied any wrongdoing to the Charlotte Observer.

The state board declined to certify Harris’ race — where he has an unofficial lead of 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready — last Friday, and will hold a hearing by Dec. 21 on its investigation. The date of that hearing has not been announced.

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