RALEIGH, N.C. — The Republican in the last undecided U.S. congressional election ignored repeated warnings from his son against hiring a shady political operator now accused of illegally collecting voter's ballots in rural Bladen County and casting the GOP campaign into limbo, the younger man testified Wednesday, according to WSOC.
Contradicting congressional candidate Mark Harris' public statements that he never suspected his campaign deployed an operative in rural Bladen County who collected ballots by the bundle and turned them in when he wanted, John Harris testified at a special state elections board hearing that he'd warned his father about Leslie McCrae Dowless' operation repeatedly since mid-2016.
Mark Harris led Democrat Dan McCready after November's election, but the race wasn't certified after allegations against a Harris contractor who focused on mail-in ballots in two rural counties.
Mark Harris said he sought out and hired political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless because he delivered votes, including for a Republican rival in the 2016 GOP primary. Mark Harris said he discussed with an attorney after that primary whether to challenge Dowless' incredible results for a GOP rival with mail-in ballots in Bladen County. Dowless' methods in the 2016 general election were referred to federal prosecutors, who took no action.
On the stand Wednesday, John Harris described Dowless as a “shady character” and said emails between him and his father show they discussed North Carolina law surrounding absentee ballots.
“I love my dad and I love my mom. I certainly have no vendetta against them. I have no family scores to settle,” John Harris said. “I believe they made mistakes in this process and they certainly did things differently than I would have done them.”