The North Carolina political officer who oversaw voter turnout efforts at the Republican Congress was arrested on Wednesday, a prosecutor said after a secret jury indictment this week.
L. McCrae Dowless Jr., one of the campaign's contractors, was one of five persons charged in Wake County, New Brunswick, for misconduct related to the mail ballot. Mr. Dowless faces the most serious charges, including three counts of serious obstruction of justice.
Although Mr. Dowless has been closely scrutinized for his work for Mark Harris, Republican congressional candidate last year in the Ninth District, the charges that were unveiled Wednesday are not related to the election. 2018, which investigators are still considering. Instead, this week's indictment was tied to the 2016 election, when Mr. Dowless was working for another candidate, and to the 2018 primaries, when he was working for Mr. Harris.
But the indictment, which was made public six days after the North Carolina State Elections Council ordered a new contest in the Ninth District, describes many of the same activities that investigators believe have taken place last fall. In one section of the indictment, for example, Mr. Dowless is accused of having ordered his associates to collect voters' ballots by correspondence and to have workers to sign voting envelopes as if they had been legitimate witnesses. North Carolina law generally prohibits third parties from manipulating these ballots.
Following last week's hearing in Raleigh, during which US supervisors heard testimony about Mr. Dowless's work and reputation, he was almost certain he would do the same. Subject of prosecution. In an interview last Friday, Lorrin Freeman, Wake County attorney, said that she was expecting a grand jury to present her first charges within a month or so. .
[Lily:[Read:[Lis:[Read:Inside a night operation to collect ballots in North Carolina]
On Tuesday, the great jurors acted. Freeman, who began investigating Dowless's activities in Bladen County after the local prosecutor's recusal, said in an email Wednesday afternoon that Mr. Dowless was arrested in the morning and authorities transported him to Raleigh for treatment.
In the months following Harris's apparent victory – with 905 votes late – to attract attention and investigation, Dowless was one of the key investigators. Over the years, he worked for Republican and Democratic candidates and was himself elected to a junior position in Bladen County, but his obscure tactics and his criminal convictions for perjury and fraud turned him into object of suspicion.
Last week, Mr. Dowless, through his lawyer, refused to testify before the election committee.
Mr. Harris, who denied any personal knowledge of wrongdoing by Mr. Dowless or his associates, acknowledged that he hired Mr. Dowless in April 2017. But last Thursday, in front of days of evidence of wrongdoing by campaigners and after offering "Testimony before the Elections Council, Mr. Harris called for a new election.
He said Tuesday that he would not participate in the new contest, which has not yet been scheduled. His Democratic rival of last year, Dan McCready, entered the race on Friday.