It's hard to see how the accusations of election fraud in Bladen County, NC get settled without a lot of people getting subpoenas, at this point.
The election for the US Congressional District 9 was decided by just 905 votes last month. Republican Mark Harris beat Democrat Dan McCready.
But the NC Board of Elections refused to certify the election results.
Over the ensuing days, we have learned about a guy named Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr. who was reportedly hired by a consulting firm to lead "get out the vote" (GOTV) operations in the eastern portions of the district. Specifically, Bladen County. But it's not clear how much territory he operated in.
So, who is Dowless?
He's a longtime Democrat who apparently recently registered as a Republican. Here's his voting record:
He's also convicted felon, according to the Charlotte Observer:
Over the last two decades, he has been paid by at least nine candidates, all for get-out-the-vote work, according to state records.
Leslie McCrae Dowless was convicted of felony fraud in 1992 in Iredell County, according to court records. Dowless and his wife were accused of taking out an insurance policy on a dead man and collecting nearly $165,000 from his death, according to a 1991 Fayetteville Observer article. He served more than six months of a two-year prison sentence, according to court records.
Dowless, now 62, was convicted of felony perjury in 1990, according to court records.
Who were the other candidates Dowless worked for? The Observer doesn't tell us. But WSOC-TV reports that he worked for the Bladen County District Attorney's campaign in 2010.
According to campaign finance reports, Dowless’ first major race was in 2010, working for Harold Butch Pope’s campaign for Bladen County district attorney.
The Pope campaign paid Dowless $7,127 over the course of the year.
A majority of the payments were for "get out the vote" efforts. Pope defeated Jon David by more than 4,000 votes.
Over the next couple of years, Dowless was paid thousands of dollars for get out the vote efforts and, at times, campaign manager for eastern North Carolina candidates Wesley Meredith, Al Leonard, Ken Waddell, and William Brisson.
Dowless’ candidates have not been limited to eastern North Carolina.
He was paid $800 for “consulting fees” for Republican Charlotte City Council candidate Pete Givens. Mark Harris, a friend of Givens, did a fundraiser and campaigned for him.
Pope is a Democrat.
Meredith is a Republican.
Leonard is a Democrat.
Waddell is a Democrat.
Brisson is a Republican - but was a Democrat until 2017.
But, McCrae is also an elected official, himself.
He won the 2016 race for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor as a Democrat. After winning, he filed a complaint alleging a massive absentee ballot mill was being run by Democrat-funded entities.
The allegations were poo-poo'd... particularly when Gov. Pat McCrory - a Republican - began talking about it. McCrory had just been narrowly defeated by Democrat Roy Cooper by about 10,000 votes - or .01% of the total votes cast.
In a video released Sunday, Cooper said, “Gov. McCrory is doing everything he can to undermine the results of this election and the will of the people. But we won’t let him.”
McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz shot back on Monday.
“Why is Roy Cooper so insistent on circumventing the electoral process and counting the votes of dead people and felons?” Diaz said in a statement. “It may be because he needs those fraudulent votes to count in order to win. Instead of insulting North Carolina voters, we intend to let the process work as it should to ensure that every legal vote is counted properly.”
Of note, Roy Cooper won Bladen County absentee ballots by more than 200 votes:
So, did Dowless actually try to blow the whistle on a Democratic Party-funded absentee ballot mill operation?
Or was it a false accusation - essentially charging his opponent with doing the very thing he was doing?
Be sure to check out Sister Toldjah's tweetstorm on this topic.
Yesterday, WSOC-TV's Joe Bruno interviewed a woman who said she was paid to collect absentee ballots from local folks, but that she never mailed them. She says she gave them to McCrae Dowless.
Ginger Eason told WSOCTV, a local news station in Charlotte, that Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr. paid her between $75 and $100 to pick up completed absentee ballots for North Carolina's 9th District, the results of which are being officially investigated.
“I was helping McCrae pick up ballots,” Eason said to the news outlet, referring to the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor who appears to be at the center of the probe.
Eason added that she didn't see who people were voting for, but that she never mailed the ballots. Instead, she gave them to Dowless, adding that he did not mention to her that what she was doing was illegal.
Dowless, known locally as McCrae, has been named twice in sworn affidavits as someone who worked for Republican candidate Mark Harris's campaign against Democrat Dan McCready.
When asked by WSOCTV about paying people to pick up ballots, Dowless said that he had no comment.
Or maybe Democrats have known about (and participated in) the absentee ballot fraud operations, and blew the whistle on Dowless as payback for working with Republicans like Harris and Brisson?
When NC Board of Elections member Joshua Malcolm proposed blocking the certification of election results, he said:
“I’m very familiar with unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state,” vice chair Malcolm, a Robeson County Democrat, told the board. “And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding which has been ongoing for a number of years that has repeatedly been referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys for them to take action and clean it up. And in my opinion those things have not taken place.”
How long, exactly, is a "number of years"?
One bright spot in all of this... at least we all seem to agree that election fraud exists now.
Pete's Prep Sheet: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018
- Now that Portland is proposing hiring unarmed cops, I'm sure Asheville will soon follow suit. According to Willamette Week, city leaders de-funded the mounted police to pay for the pilot program.
- More than 3,800 buildings in Cuba have collapsed since 2000. Drawing on multiple reports, John Sexton at Hot Air sums it up: "Communists promised people housing as a universal right and the result some 60 years later is people living in tiny, substandard hovels, fearing that the next rainstorm could bring the building collapsing down on them and their children."
- POLITICO reports: Republicans are throwing in the towel on de-funding Planned Parenthood.
- Protests occurred last night Chapel Hill, after the UNC Board of Trustees unveiled a plan to build a $5.3 million building to house the Silent Sam statue that was torn down by protesters over the summer.
- State lawmakers have a new proposal on how to structure the Board of Elections.
- More problems at the NC DMV, as Commissioner Torre Jessup appears to have intervened and overturned staff recommendations on behalf of at least four businesses. WBTV uncovered the story.