President Donald Trump called former Republican candidate for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, Mark Harris, a “fine man” Monday when addressing the Republican National Convention.
Previously, eight individuals were indicted in connection with an election fraud inquiry including Leslie McCrae Dowless, a Republican political operative who worked with Harris’s campaign in 2018.
While talking about ballot harvesting at the Republican National Convention, Trump said, “[ballot] harvesting is illegal in your state [North Carolina]. They wanted to put a Republican, fine man, a pastor, they wanted to put him in jail because he harvested. Now they want to make harvesting legal all of a sudden. They’ll put him in jail as a Republican, right? If he was a Democrat, they wouldn’t even be thinking about it. In California, they do the same thing, no repercussion [sic]. In North Carolina, you had a fine pastor, a fine man, and they got him on harvesting. They wanted to put him in jail. And now, they want to make it all so that everybody can harvest because they know it’s not a good thing.”
No criminal charges were brought against Harris by District Attorney Lorrin Freeman after an investigation found there was not a sufficient amount of evidence to build a criminal case against Harris, according to ABC 11.
Harris said “nearly 600 days ago I told the voters of the 9th district that my campaign would fully cooperate with investigators in a process that would ultimately reveal insufficient evidence to overturn an election. I am personally grateful for the detailed investigation by the Wake County District Attorney and the cooperating federal and state agencies to finally restore my reputation. I trust the investigators will continue their work so North Carolina voters can be assured that their vote counts in a system that follows the rule of law,” in a statement at the time.
A July 2019 indictment charged GOP operative Leslie McCrae Dowless with perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, two counts of felony obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and illegal possession of absentee ballots, according to a statement by Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, as reported by NPR. The charges are in relation to actions taken by Dowless during the 2018 election cycle in order to help Harris to edge out his opponent, Democrat Dan McCready, by just over 900 votes. (RELATED: North Carolina Elections Director Says GOP Consultant Orchestrated An ‘Unlawful’ Ballot-Harvesting Scheme)
The State Board of Elections announced in February 2019 that there would be a new election for the ninth congressional district of North Carolina. Harris decided not to run for that seat, and on election day in September of that year, Republican Dan Bishop was elected to fill the seat, per ABC 11.