Smoking gun email shows GOP candidate pursued shady 'project' to win


Evidence has emerged that a North Carolina Republican candidate sought out a known fraudster — who his own son warned him against hiring — to run his absentee ballot program in a House race being investigated for election fraud.

Things just got way, way worse for North Carolina Republican Mark Harris.

New evidence emerged on Thursday at an ongoing hearing before the North Carolina State Board of Elections that shows Harris specifically sought out a known election fraudster to run the absentee ballot program in his 2018 House campaign.

That campaign is now under serious investigation from the elections board, which is using the hearing to determine whether it's necessary to hold new elections in the state's 9th Congressional District because of a massive fraud scheme carried out by a consultant, McCrae Dowless, who worked for Harris' campaign.

The new evidence, an email in which Harris seeks advice on hiring Dowless to run his absentee ballot program, emerged just before Harris took the stand at the hearing.

"You know the political and financial connections better than anyone else I would know, including the guy whose absentee ballot project for Johnson could have put me in the US House this term, had I known," Harris wrote in an email in March 2017 to former district court judge Marion Warren.

Harris appears to be referencing the services of Dowless — who, before Harris hired him, had a criminal rap sheet that included felony fraud and perjury convictions.

Mark Harris email
An email suggesting Mark Harris was aware of a shady operative who had an illegal absentee ballot scheme. Twitter/Jim Morrill

Former Rep. Rob Pittenger, whom Harris defeated in the 2018 primary in order to move on to the general election, was interviewed by a local television outlet about using Dowless' services.

Pittenger told the television station that Dowless approached him during the 2018 election, but that Pittenger refused his services because he felt Dowless was a "very unsavory character" and that "what he proposed was something that I did not want to do."

"Everything that I heard in the five minutes that I spent with him was enough to say, 'No thank you,'" Pittenger said.

Even Harris' own son warned his father against hiring Dowless — a fact that emerged at an explosive day of witness testimony on Wednesday.

Yet Harris went ahead and hired Dowless anyway.

Harris claimed during the hearing that he was promised Dowless' operation was legal and above board, and felt comfortable hiring him.

Lawyers for Harris' opponent, as well as members of the elections board, were incensed that the Harris campaign's legal team would withhold an email like this, which had been subpoenaed and was clearly relevant to the hearing at hand.

Now lawyer Marc Elias, who is representing the campaign of Harris' opponent, Democrat Dan McCready, at the hearing, wants to call more Harris campaign workers to the stand in light of the new evidence that emerged.

Harris lead McCready by just 905 votes in the last official tally. But elections officials refused to certify those results — and as more evidence emerges, it looks increasingly likely that they never will.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.