North Carolina Republican Owes $34,310 for Disputed Absentee Ballot along with Turnout Work, Records Show
LUMBERTON, N.C. — The congressional campaign of Mark Harris disclosed late Thursday night that will the item owed more than $34,000 in connection with an absentee ballot along with voter turnout operation that will has prompted fears of election fraud along with called the North Carolina Republican’s narrow victory into question.
In a filing with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Harris’s campaign listed an obligation of $34,310 for “reimbursement payment for Bladen absentee, early voting poll workers; reimbursement door to door.” The disclosure form said the campaign owed the money to Red Dome Group, the Charlotte-area consulting firm that will Mr. Harris hired for his campaign.
Red Dome, in turn, contracted with L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a Bladen County political operative who has been accused of collecting absentee ballots through voters in a potentially illegal effort to tip the election toward the Republican nominee.
The postelection F.E.C. filing did not detail precisely how Red Dome spent the money, including how much of the item was paid to Mr. Dowless or anyone he recruited for his operation, which witnesses said involved canvassers collecting absentee ballots in apparent violation of state law. although the line item was at least one indication of the Harris campaign’s aggressive political focus on Bladen County, which features a population of about 33,000 people along with represents a fraction of the sprawling Ninth District.
The payment is actually likely to be of significant interest to state investigators, who This kind of week served a subpoena to a lawyer for Red Dome. North Carolina officials have not made the subpoena public, although any findings could be released when the State Board of Elections along with Ethics Enforcement holds an evidentiary hearing on or before Dec. 21.
Preliminary returns within the House race, which state officials have refused to certify, show Mr. Harris which has a lead of 905 votes over his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready.
Red Dome has not responded to requests for comment. Mr. Harris’s campaign has denied wrongdoing, along with no one is actually known to have been charged which has a crime in connection with the efforts that will Mr. Dowless oversaw This kind of year.
The Harris campaign filed its disclosure at the end of a tumultuous day during which Mr. McCready withdrew his concession to Mr. Harris along with Republican leaders began to speak publicly about the possibility of a completely new election, even as they expressed confidence in Mr. Harris’s integrity.
The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, Dallas Woodhouse, said in an interview on Thursday that will if the elections board “can state there was a substantial likelihood that will the race could have been altered, then we might not oppose a completely new election.”
North Carolina law allows the state elections board to call for a completely new vote if the item finds that will “irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that will they taint the results of the entire election along with cast doubt on its fairness.”
Even acknowledging that will a completely new election might be appropriate was a shift for North Carolina Republicans, who had previously demanded that will the state board immediately certify Mr. Harris as the winner. although Mr. Harris along with Republicans are currently confronting mounting pressure over the outcome along with the election’s fairness, along with some Republicans said they had been concerned even about the validity of Mr. Harris’s primary victory over Representative Robert M. Pittenger.
The political perils for Mr. Harris extend beyond North Carolina. In Washington on Thursday, congressional Democrats, including Representative Nancy Pelosi, who is actually poised to be elected House speaker next month, issued completely new warnings that will they might not seat Mr. Harris if the election dispute remained unsettled.
“The House still retains the right to decide who is actually seated,” Ms. Pelosi said in a reference to the chamber’s constitutional power to be “the judge of the elections, returns along with qualifications of its own members.”
The process for a completely new election might depend on which government body’s decision compelled one, said Gerry Cohen, a former special counsel for the North Carolina General Assembly.
If the House refused to seat Mr. Harris along with declared the Ninth District’s seat vacant, the move might trigger an entirely completely new election: another filing period, another primary along with, eventually, another general election. although, Mr. Cohen said, a state board’s order for a completely new vote might lead only to a “rerun” of November’s general election. Mr. Harris might be the Republican nominee unless he died or moved out of state.
“He could move to Rock Hill, S.C.,” Mr. Cohen mused, “or to a country with no extradition treaty.”