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By Leigh Ann Caldwell
RALEIGH, NC – The son of Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris testified Wednesday before the North Carolina State Elections Council, claiming he had warned his father against illegal tactics from a political officer that Harris had hired and questioning the insistence of Harris had no knowledge of a fraudulent election activity at the election of the year latest
In a dramatic surprise appearance that culminated in an emotional appeal to settle the political process, John Harris, an associate US attorney in North Carolina, testified that he had told his father that he had become preoccupied by the practices of McCrae Dowless after having studied the primary of the Congress of 2016 in the same 9th district,
In this race, Dowless candidate Todd Johnson came in third, although he won all but one of 218 mail ballots recorded in Bladen County. Harris was also running for this election.
Harris testified that his father had decided to hire Dowless despite his concerns.
"Do I agree with their final assessment? No, I thought what he was doing was illegal and I was right, "said John Harris at the helm. "If he had lost several times, I do not think that they would have decided, but you know, the fact that he has shown his success and that others people supported his program, I think it weighed heavily on them. . "
Earlier this week, the commission heard testimony about what state investigators described in Bladen County as a "coordinated and illegal" "postal voting scheme", including the collection of newsletters. postal vote, which is isillegal in North Carolina.
Dowless's daughter-in-law, Lisa Britt, testified that she sometimes filled in incomplete ballots for Republican candidates. She stated, however, that she did not complete ballots for Harris.
John Harris provided email exchanges with his father about Dowless's apparent practices during the 2016 race, including an email in April 2017, just prior to the hiring of Mr. Dowless by Harris, where he had told his father that it was a crime to post the vote of someone else. and that it is a "legal gray area" even though Dowless has put the ballot in his own mailbox.
"I can tell you that, in my opinion, they have heard my concerns, that other people closer to the situation and Mr. Dowless have approved his action and that Mr. Dowless has lied to them on a number of occasions", he declared.
His testimony could have a decisive impact while the board of directors, composed of five members, decides whether to certify the results of last November's results or to call new elections. Mark Harris is the unofficial leader of the race with only 905 votes more than Democrat Dan McCready, but allegations of irregularities regarding postal voting in two rural counties – Bladen and Robeson – have delayed certification of the race.
John Harris was called to the bar of state investigators and neither the Harris nor McCready teams knew that he was going to testify.
Mark Harris will appear at the hearing on Thursday morning, the fourth day of the hearing.
John Harris also stated that his father had told him that he was going to appeal to Dowless as an entrepreneur through the Red Dome consulting group in order to create a separation layer with respect to countryside.
Harris's lawyers tried to separate Harris from Dowless throughout the hearing, but Wednesday's testimony tarnished this argument.
Repressing his tears, John Harris said he thought more about his kids than about his parents when he was considering testifying.
"I love my father, I love my mother, O.K.? I certainly have no vendetta against them, no family accounts to settle, O.K. I think they made mistakes in this process and that they certainly did things differently than I would have done, "Harris said as his father watched wiping his tears away.
"We have to find a way to transcend our partisan politics and the exploitation of such processes for political ends, which is true for both parties, Democrats and Republicans, and for libertarians," he said.
"I just left thinking that we can all do a lot better than that."