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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House Judiciary Committee subpoenas Rob Porter

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly (L) and former staff secretary Rob Porter. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former Trump administration aide Rob Porter on Monday to testify in its probe regarding possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.

Why it matters: Porter was a key witness for the obstruction portion of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He resigned from the White House last year after his 2 ex-wives came forward with abuse allegations. Porter may never have to face the committee as the White House has moved to block other former surrogates from testifying before the House Judiciary.

R. Kelly charged in Minnesota with solicitation involving girl, 17

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