House Democrats are preparing to launch their own investigations into the disputed congressional election in North Carolina, where Republican Mark Harris’ campaign is facing fraud allegations and the state elections board had refused to certify the results.
Harris’ campaign has sued in state court to be seated in Congress, despite an ongoing investigation by the elections board that suffered a setback when the board was dissolved at the end of 2018. Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial vote count, but voters and election workers have filed numerous affidavits detailing irregularities during the election, including reports that McCrae Dowless, a subcontractor for Harris’ campaign consultants, ran an operation that collected and marked voters’ absentee ballots.
The House Democratic investigations could pave the way for a new election in the district, even if the court orders the board of elections to certify Harris as the winner instead of the board ordering a re-vote itself. The House Administration Committee, now controlled by Democrats, has the authority to call for another election after investigating the 2018 results.
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who is slated to chair an election-focused subcommittee of the House Administration Committee, told POLITICO that the House will intervene if the North Carolina court ordered the election certified for Harris before the state investigation has concluded. Any House member could object to seating Harris and block him, triggering an investigation by Fudge's committee.
Fudge said that three House panels — the Oversight, Judiciary and Administration committees — have started discussing the situation and will be meeting over the next week “to determine what all of our options are.”
“It is our hope that the courts in North Carolina would do the right thing,” Fudge said. “If they chose not to the right thing, or if for some reason he brings a certification here, we would challenge the propriety of seating him at that point until such time as there was a proper investigation done by the House.”
Fudge added that the full House could possibly go so far as to sue the state of North Carolina. If a judge orders that Harris be declared the winner, Fudge said, she is “confident that the House would bring an action against the state of North Carolina."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he could begin requesting documents “like paychecks, any kind of agreements” between Harris’ campaign and Dowless this month. Cummings, who now wields subpoena power in the majority, also threatened to call Dowless to Washington for an interview.
“It’s quite possible that we’ll want to bring in [Dowless],” Cummings said. “We’re certainly are looking at it very carefully.”
“When it comes to a state’s electoral process I think we have to be very careful and try to allow that state to provide due process. But at the same time we cannot just turn our heads to alleged voter fraud,” Cummings added. “It would be almost legislative malpractice if we fail to consider at least getting some preliminary information.”
If Harris is smart, he absolutely starts begging for a new election and as soon as he can. NC Republicans of course will never countenance that, so we're about to find out all of Harris's dirty laundry and to shine a floodlight on the dirty machinery Harris used to steal this election.
And when everything's done, I'm betting Dan McCready is the 41st new House Democrat this Congress, and that Mark Harris is going to jail.