A new report from The Charlotte Observer suggests Mark Harris — the presumed winner of this year’s U.S. House District 9 race — knew and recommended the embattled campaign consultant at the center of the voter fraud scandal.
The newspaper published a story this afternoon that digs into McRae Dowless’ background, which includes a felony conviction in 1992 for fraud and perjury.
But perhaps the most interesting segment suggests that Harris, a Republican from Charlotte, once recommended Dowless’ services to another candidate.
Questions about Dowless and the handling of absentee ballots in District 9 derailed the certification process for that election, which Harris appeared to win last month by about 900 votes.
It’s unclear what happens next in the stalled election.
From The Charlotte Observer:
A man who worked as an “independent contractor” for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is a convicted felon who faced jail time for fraud and perjury, according to court records.
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.
The results of Harris’ apparent victory over Democrat Dan McCready in November’s election have not been certified by the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The nine-member board has twice declined to certify the results and will hold an evidentiary hearing this month due to “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots,” according to Joshua Malcolm, the board’s vice chair.
Dowless was paid by the Harris campaign as a contractor for the candidate’s top consultant, according to The Charlotte Observer.
“He was an independent contractor who worked on grassroots for the campaign, independent of the campaign … as he’s done for a number of campaigns over the years,” said Andy Yates, Harris’ top strategist and the founder of Red Dome Group.
In an affidavit given to the Democratic Party, Dwight Sheppard, a fire investigator in Bladen County, said he believes Dowless is in the thick of the controversy. Dowless has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer. He could not be reached on Monday by phone or on Sunday at an address listed for him in voting records. Read more