No charges against Mark Harris in District 9 absentee ballot investigation, Wake DA says

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County district attorney said a year-long investigation didn’t find evidence that would support a criminal case against Mark Harris in the absentee ballot operations in Bladen County during the 2018 General Election.

District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said state and federal agencies took part in the investigation that looked into Harris and his campaign during the 2018 general election in Bladen County.

The district attorney said there was an additional unnamed witness who investigators wanted to speak to and that had “finally gotten to a place” in the last couple weeks.

She said the investigation is about six to nine months off schedule due to the pandemic.

“I would not expect that (Harris) would be a witness at this point. Certainly, at some point that may be subject to change. Most of our focus going forward really does turn to what was happening there in Bladen County,” she said.

Freeman said the matter is closed in regards to Harris.

“It is critically important that the public be able to trust the electoral process. Candidates for elected office have a duty to uphold the public’s faith by not only following the law, but by exercising sound judgment,” Freeman said in a statement.

The district attorney said the fact that Harris relinquished his seat and did not run in the new election “were important steps in restoring the confidence of the voters in District 9.”

David Freedman, attorney for Mark Harris, said he learned last night of the DA’s decision. Freedman said, “We appreciate the thoroughness and the professionalism of the DA’s Office in Wake County, the elected DA Lorrin Freeman.”

Freedman also said, “There’s always a sense of relief when something like this can be put behind you.”

And as far as any ongoing role in the investigation, Freedman said, “I believe this is going to be the end of Dr. Harris’s involvement.”

However, others are still charged as part of the absentee ballot scene – including Mccrae Dowless.

Dowless faces both state and federal charges related to his political work. If the case against McCrae Dowless does go before a jury, Freeman doesn’t expect it to be until 2021

Dowless and others were indicted last year in state court on charges involving ballot “harvesting” allegations during the 2016 and 2018 elections. A State Board of Elections investigation into the 2018 activities led members to order a new election for the 9th Congressional District seat that includes Bladen. That election occurred in 2019.

A federal grand jury also indicted Dowless in April on counts related to allegations he concealed money that he was paid for working for candidates during the 2018 election, leading to Social Security benefit fraud.

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