By Cash Michaels –
It’s been three weeks since the NC State Board of Elections (SBOE) voted unanimously to hold a new election in the Ninth Congressional District because of clear evidence of “tainted” election fraud with absentee ballots in Bladen County.
Thus far, five people have been indicted, and two arrested, by state authorities, including Leslie McCrae Dowless, the two-time convicted felon and political operative now charged with the illegal tampering of absentee votes on behalf of the Republican candidate.
But two weeks ago, on his Charlotte WBTV-AM radio show, former Gov. Pat McCrory, after announcing that he will not seek election to the still open Ninth District seat, demanded that the SBOE and the media reopen an investigation into his dramatic 2016 re-election loss.
“It is time for the media and the elections board to reopen this investigation, in public—don’t wait for the federal or state authorities—and ask the question, “Who did what, when … not just in 2018, but in 2016 when I raised, as a gubernatorial candidate, the exact same issues,” McCrory told his audience.
The Republican ex-governor maintains his loss was a result of the same kind of Bladen County “voter fraud,” but on a statewide level. His 2016 campaign had filed 52 election complaints after his loss, none of which were found to be justified.
According to McCrory, back in 2016, the Bladen County Improvement Association (BCIA), a black Democratic Party-funded political action committee there, was responsible for the same type of “voter fraud” that the SBOE uncovered taking place in 2018—illegally collecting absentee ballots and filling in blanks.
McCrory alleged that other Democrat-funded black PACs across the state were also guilty.
In fact, it was none other than Leslie McCrae Dowless who made the complaint on behalf of McCrory and the state Republican Party.
“Should the election board find that these are absentee ballot mills, with the purpose of fraudulent voting, those people should go to jail,” Dallas Woodhouse, NCGOP executive director told a radio show in 2016. “They should spend the first term of the Trump administration behind bars.”
The campaign of the 216 gubernatorial winner, Roy Cooper, shot back, “The truth is this election was administered by Republicans appointed by Gov. McCrory himself.”
And thus far, even though McCrory is pressing his case, no one—not the SBOE, not the State Bureau of Investigation, and not even federal authorities—has seen any evidence that convinces them that the former Republican governor did anything but lose re-election on his own. As Cooper noted, it was the GOP-led SBOE in 2016 that looked into McCrory’s claims then, and turned their findings over to federal authorities. The charges were unfounded, but had a chilling effect.
“The election challenges that have been filed are in areas where we have strong African American political organizations,” executive director Melvin Montford of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute said in a news release. “Calling these votes into question is an obvious effort to cast doubt on election results with no good reason to do so and disenfranchise black voters.”
And the fact that McCrory and the state Republican Party continue to allege voter fraud on a statewide scale in his 2016 election infuriates Irving Joyner, attorney for the BCIA.
“The Bladen County Improvement Association did not engage in any illegal conduct during either the 2016 or 2018 campaigns,” Joyner said in a statement two weeks ago. “McCrory is lying about what happened to him in 2016. He lost the governor’s race and is attempting to falsely cast blame on others for his inept campaign.”
In a heretofore unknown Feb. 19 letter to the SBOE, placed on record after the hearings began, Joyner reiterated that the BCIA had done nothing illegal during the 2018 elections, even though one of the hearing witnesses, Lisa Britt, testified that the BCIA PAC president Horace Munn, “… had visited with McCrae Dowless … to deliver absentee ballots and that he had called Dowless, at a later point, and directed that a signed absentee ballot form be returned to [a voter].”
“That testimony was a deliberate lie,” attorney Joyner emphasized. “At no point during the 2018 election did Mr. Munn have any contact with McCrae Dowless or Lisa Britt regarding absentee ballots or anything else.”
Joyner continued that Munn had been subpoenaed to appear at the SBOE hearings, which he did; he refuted Britt’s false testimony and was then “dismissed by the SBOE staff.”
The BCIA, Joyner maintained, “… did engage in get out the vote (GOTV) activities during the 2018 elections …” and legally paid people to do so. “[N]one of those efforts involved the gathering or harvesting of absentee ballots,” he added.
Joyner sees the 2018 allegation as a continuation of what McCrory and the state Republicans allege about his 2016 contest involving the BCIA and other Democratic Party-funded black PACs across the state.