Fraud cloud over NC 9

By Steve Woodward

Bladen County has a checkered history as a vote fraud hotbed in North Carolina. Democrats have complained about it for nearly a decade because they rarely win in the 9th District, which includes Bladen. But at least one Republican acknowledges a similar trend.

“Over that period of time authorities have failed to get to the bottom of that problem,” State Senator Dan Bishop said during a recent news conference covered by Carolina Journal. “The problem is not being solved by prosecutorial authority so far, and certainly not by the state board of elections over three administrations” spanning Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, Republican Pat McCrory, and sitting Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

For now, the final count in the race for the U.S. House seat in the 9th finds Republican Mark Harris, a Baptist pastor, holding a 905-vote lead on Democrat Dan McCready, but the state refuses to certify the result because a few volunteers came forward with stories of absentee ballot mishandling. Harris could use some divine intervention about now.

The alleged perpetrator is a Bladen County political activist, an otherwise obscure soil and water conservation supervisor and convicted felon, Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr., who has worked in at least five campaigns since 2010, The Washington Post reports.

National media outlets have been paying attention, presumably because they salivate at the possibility that another reliably Republican House seat will flip to a Democrat. The right-leaning The Wall Street Journal editorial board has taken notice of the drama in western North Carolina, even while scolding “Democrats (who often) insist that vote fraud is a myth”:

“Forty percent of the mail-in ballots for Bladen County were never returned, and it was 62% for neighboring Robeson County. That compares with 24% district-wide. So one suspicion is that Mr. Dowless could have perhaps destroyed hundreds of Democratic ballots.”

The word “perhaps” hangs over the resulting count because, ultimately, investigators have only the claims of volunteer absentee-ballot collectors recruited by Dowless — and voters who say their ballots were handed over to these collectors — as evidence of fraud. Unlike Broward County, Fla., mysterious boxes of ballots, mailed in or cast on election day, have yet to materialize in Bladen or Robeson.

The WSJ’s editorial did not conclude that fraud occurred in NC’s 9th. But it rightly shed light on the perils of making fraud easier than it should be.

“One lesson from this mess is the folly of pushing to expand ballot access without regard for ballot integrity. North Carolina implemented ‘no excuse’ early voting in 2000, which was expanded in 2002 to mail-in ballots. Previously, a voter had to demonstrate he was sick or would be out of town.”

The point is well taken and should be reviewed thoroughly by the state’s election officials, especially given North Carolina’s growing national reputation as the home of election chaos. And if you think court ordered re-districting wreaked havoc this election cycle, TheHill.com reports there looms a daunting worst-case scenario if the state decides a new election between Harris and McCready in the 9th is not necessary.

Observes TheHill.com: “The U.S. House of Representatives, which has the ultimate authority over congressional elections, can also call for a special election, which would trigger a new filing process, to be followed by a primary and general election (our emphasis added).”

If this happens, not only will Mark Harris be missing as the elected representative of his district on Capitol Hill, our state will have no elected representative in the halls of Congress for the foreseeable future.

The state board of elections holds an evidentiary hearing on Dec. 21.

Backing McInnis

At last, we move on down the path to the Fall mid-term elections. More than a few Moore County Republicans surely harbor lingering resentment about the lengths to which the state GOP establishment sunk to sink a primary challenge by Whispering Pines Mayor Michelle Lexo against incumbent Tom McInnis in NC-25 (although McInnis was no incumbent in Moore due to haphazard redistricting).

But in conceding defeat last week, Lexo took the high ground and graciously thanked her supporters. Republicans must now rally, reunite and take the high ground in embracing McInnis. Maintaining a GOP supermajority in Raleigh is priority one.

Although McInnis is facing a first-time candidate in Helen Probst-Mills, she is widely known in the community and not long ago hosted a fundraiser attended by Gov. Roy Cooper in her Pinehurst home. And that’s not all.

In its analysis of “races to watch” in 2018, the non-profit public policy web site RealFactsNC.com, makes the chilling observation that “the voters who sent (McInnis) to the General Assembly are gone (our emphasis) from his redrawn district.” Furthermore, fewer than half of NC-25 voters “have seen McInnis on their ballot before.”

Given that Moore County accounts for just under half of all voters in the district, this ostensibly means that Probst-Mills can legitimately make the same argument voiced by Lexo: I live in Moore; McInnis does not. (He counters by saying, legitimately, that he has owned property and paid taxes in Moore for 40+ years, and does, in fact, own a Pinehurst home).

The bottom line is that getting out the vote for McInnis is absolutely vital, and we must now leverage his backing from NC GOP heavyweights. Probst-Mills has fundraising chops, too, due to her status as a member of the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees (and her alliance with far-left SCC President John Dempsey), and ties to Cooper’s inner circle.

But she embraces several positions that will encounter fervent resistance in Moore County. Probst-Mills echoes the baloney from the left that North Carolina teachers are underpaid and that our schools are neglected. (Some are and yet school boards are not held to account). She favors further expansion of Medicaid, fueling the entitlement engine Democrats always seek to expand. And her campaign web site makes the unsubstantiated — if not false — claim that “people’s ability to vote is being curtailed” in our state. What a whopper!

Sen. McInnis holds a significant advantage that can be a double-edged sword for politicians. He has a voting record in the NC General Assembly. Opponents can use this as fodder. Unless, of course, a majority of Moore Republicans support McInnis’s positions on jobs and the economy, education and vocational options, and Second Amendment preservation.

These issues, if communicated effectively, will re-elect our Republican Senator. Get to know the issues and get to work!

 

 

 

 

 

Fed heat on Cooper

One day after North Carolina Democrat party lawyers deposed NC GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse to engage in what Woodhouse dismissed as “a fishing expedition”, Republicans cast a line of their own but with a much larger hook and serious implications for Gov. Roy Cooper.

Woodhouse was forced to answer questions in response to Democrats’ demands to know what role he played in the his party’s cancellation of this year’s judicial primaries. The deposition is tied to a Democrat party lawsuit against GOP leaders Tim Moore and Phil Berger, attempting to overturn the elimination of those primaries last year.

While the lawsuit is little more than a sideshow — non-judicial county primaries are May 8; the case isn’t set for trial until June, leaving no time to wedge in another primary for judges — the NC GOP on April 24 issued a request for something with a bit more teeth, a federal investigation of Cooper and his role in the Governor’s office taking control of a $58 million pipeline fund.

The NC GOP is citing the Hobbs Act of 1949 in its submission to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Raleigh-based Robert J. Higdon Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The Hobbs Act prevents wrongful property extortion by public officials whether they personally benefit financially or not. Eight governors have been convicted of public corruption through the Hobbs Act since becoming law 69 years ago.

Read the request for implementation of the Hobbs Act in the Cooper matter here.

A joint statement was issued by NC GOP Chairman Robin Hayes and Woodhouse:

“The conduct of Governor Cooper regarding the $58 million pipeline fund, designed to be under his sole control, appears to be the worst example of pay-to-play politics, intended to benefit him personally and/or politically. A serious look by federal investigators is warranted.”