North Carolina political agent pleads guilty to electoral fraud
A campaign agent at the center of the 2018 North Carolina ballot fraud scandal pleaded guilty on Monday to illegally accepting Social Security benefits while concealing other money he had earned, The Associated reported Press.
Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. has pleaded guilty to theft of government property and Social Security fraud and faces up to 15 years in prison. His sentencing hearing was set for August 23.
Dowless was indicted last year after evidence revealed he received around $ 135,000 in 2017 and 2018 for his work on state and federal campaigns, the AP reported. At the same time, he applied for social security benefits in 2018 and claimed not to have worked in recent years.
Dowless worked on the 2018 congressional campaign for the Republican candidate Marc HarrisMark HarrisThe Hill’s Morning Report – Brought to you by Facebook – GOP puts infrastructure to work; Senate Passes Asian Hate Crimes Bill Hillicon Valley: Intelligence Agency Collects Location Data From Warrantless US Smartphones, Note Says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hacking on DOJ and courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with Trump vaccine distribution sparks debate on merits of postal voting MORE. Harris initially led his Democratic opponent Dan McCready by several hundred votes before it was revealed that Dowless had collected and filled out hundreds of mail-in ballots in a rural North Carolina county.
In February 2019, Dowless was arrested and charged with several counts of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of postal ballots.
Leslie McCrae Dowless, the North Carolina political agent at the center of the state’s electoral fraud controversy, has been charged with multiple felony charges https://t.co/os947lwier pic.twitter.com/rdBzHzVgUR
– CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) February 27, 2019
Harris said he was unaware that Dowless’s voter fraud scheme was illegal. John Harris, Mark Harris’ son, later testified that he informed his father that he believed Dowless’s actions were illegal, although the elder Harris still hired Dowless.
After the scandal erupted, the North Carolina State Council of Elections voted unanimously to call a new election, to which Harris did not run, even though he himself had asked the resumption after months of initial appeal to the electoral board to certify him as the winner.
Republican Representative Dan Bishop (NC) won the new election.