Jul 31, 2019

North Carolina ballot fraud probe: GOP operative faces fresh charges

Leslie McCrae Dowless sits in his kitchen in Bladenboro, North Carolina. Photo: Justin Kase Conder for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Republican political operative in North Carolina accused of ballot tampering in a 2018 congressional election was hit with new felony charges on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Leslie McCrae Dowless was already facing obstruction and conspiracy charges relating to an investigation into North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District 2018 election. That probe found a "coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme" in 2 counties.

What's new: Dowless was just indicted along with 7 alleged co-conspirators. He faces 2 counts of felony obstruction of justice, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and illegal possession of absentee ballots, according to NPR.

Background: The ballot-fraud inquiry centered around the campaign of Republican U.S. House candidate Mark Harris. He held an unofficial 905-vote lead over his Democratic opponent Dan McCready. But the North Carolina State Board of Elections declined to certify Harris as a winner because of concerns of voting irregularities.

  • The board ordered a new election to be held after its probe found that Dowless — who was working on behalf of Harris — had allegedly coordinated an "unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme," including efforts of a cover-up.
  • Dowless was arrested in February and charged with 3 counts of obstruction of justice and 2 each of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballots, per the Washington Post. He's previously denied any wrongdoing to the Charlotte Observer.

What's next: McCready is up against Republican Dan Bishop in the new election this fall, after Harris — who was not mentioned in the indictment — chose not to run in the new election, per AP.

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Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.