February 19, 2019/Press

NC-09 Day 2: Direct tie from Mark Harris to his campaign’s “coordinated, unlawful absentee ballot scheme”

If Day 1 of this hearing was all about who got caught up in the election fraud scheme run by Mark Harris’ campaign, Day 2 was all about who directed that scheme, and every ounce of evidence points back to Mark Harris himself.

From Harris’ consultant Andy Yates throwing up his hands and saying that if he’d known he would “have told Dr. Harris to fire him immediately,” to Yates admitting for the first time that he was hired after Mark Harris had already personally hired McCrae Dowless and had nothing to do with his direction, today makes it much more difficult for Harris to dodge responsibility for the man he hired, funded, and directed.

Here are our top three takeaways from Day 2 of hearings into election fraud in NC-09:

1. Mark Harris was responsible for hiring and directing McCrae Dowless.

Yesterday, witnesses drew a circle around Dowless and Harris’ top consultant. Today, the circle got tighter — but rather than focusing on a consultant, Mark Harris is at the center.

Harris’ own top consultant testified that even before he came on board with Mark Harris’ campaign, Harris had already hired McCrae Dowless. “I felt like Mr. Dowless was a done deal before I was ever brought into the campaign,” Yates said, adding, “[Dowless] was in regular communication with Dr. Harris.”

2. The NCGOP encouraged Red Dome to work with Dowless after being warned of illegal activity.

At the end of the day’s hearing, Red Dome Founder Andy Yates testified that NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse had encouraged him to continue working with McCrae Dowless during the general election. This encouragement would have come around the same time that Woodhouse was warned by fellow Republicans of potential election fraud in Bladen County after the primary.During Yates’s testimony, Woodhouse was seen scurrying across the courtroomto speak with lawyers.

3. Early vote totals were improperly printed, and might have been leaked.

Day 2 started with nearly every witness stating that early vote totals in Bladen county were improperly printed. A key witness went a step further, detailing how the totals were leaked ahead of time, a breach of protocol that could have impacted the election results.

This second infraction (in addition to that whole widespread election fraud thing) is huge because the NCGOP has previously said that if early vote totals were leaked, “a new election is appropriate.”