The man at the center of North Carolina’s election fraud scandal was arrested today after a grand jury handed down felony charges for his role in collecting absentee ballots during county elections in 2016 and 2018.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced Leslie McCrae Dowless was charged with three felony charges of obstruction of justice, two charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two charges of possession of absentee ballot. Dowless was indicted along with four other people involved in the operation. The indictments cover the 2016 general election and the 2018 primaries, not the recently-overturned 2018 general election; they can be read in full here, courtesy WCNC.
Dowless and his organization, the Red Dome Group, operated a ballot-fixing program that collected absentee ballots in Bladen County and stuffed the ballot for whichever candidate contracted with them. Mark Harris was the most recent politician to contract Dowless and the Red Dome Group over repeated objections from his son, who noted the voting irregularities. The Republican candidate narrowly claimed victory in the November 2018 election over Democrat Dan McCready.
As was foreshadowed in testimony and by investigators for the State Board of Elections during four days of public hearings last week, charges related to the 2018 general election are likely forthcoming for Dowless and his associates. According to WSOC’s Joe Bruno, Freeman said she has met with Board of Elections investigators and expects the results of their investigation into the 2018 general to be forwarded to the State Bureau of Investigations in the next month.
Last Friday, with Harris’ shocking stamp of approval, the board called for a new election for the Ninth District congressional seat. Harris announced on Tuesday that he will not compete again and pushed for a Boss Hogg impersonator to replace him in the new race.