BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. - For nearly two hours Thursday morning, Mark Harris was interviewed by North Carolina Board of Elections investigators who are trying to get to the bottom of election fraud allegations in the 9th Congressional District.
Channel 9 crews were there as Harris arrived to meet with state election officials in Raleigh.
Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos asked Harris what it felt like not being in Washington, D.C. as the 116th Congress was sworn in. Harris replied, "Disappointing."
The investigation centers around a man named McCrae Dowless, who ran get out the vote efforts in Bladen County for Red Dome, a company hired by the Harris campaign.
Several people told Channel 9 they were paid by Dowless to collect absentee ballot request forms and the actual ballots. Collecting ballots is illegal.
After leaving Thursday’s meeting with officials, Harris addressed the media.
“Do you think McCrae Dowless did anything wrong?” Latos asked. “I can’t answer that,” Harris said. “I think, ultimately, the investigation will lead wherever it leads. I don’t have indication or know any more than you do in terms of his attorney who said that he did not.”
Harris wouldn’t say what he shared with investigators but repeatedly said he will cooperate.
“Did you provide more documents? The State Board of Elections had mentioned there could be 140,000. Did you come today and provide more?” Latos asked.
“We’re in the process of doing that,” said David Freedman, attorney for Harris. “Again, this has been an expedited process and the number of documents to be provided. We’re going through it.”
Last week, former NCSBE Chair Joshua Malcolm sent a letter to the Harris campaign saying NCSBE staff is still waiting for the campaign to produce subpoenaed documents. Malcolm wrote that NCSBE has only received 398 documents out of a possible 140,000 pages of relevant material.
The Harris campaign also filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in Wake County Superior Court on Thursday, calling for the certification of Harris as the winner in the 9th Congressional District election.
As Harris met with investigators, members of the 116th Congress were sworn in. The Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives is expected to take over constituent services for the 9th Congressional District until a representative is sworn in.
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The U.S. House of Representatives has the constitutional authority to control the seating of its own members. Asked about the possibility that Democrats may vacate or refuse to seat Harris, Freedman said that is many steps down the road.
“If he is certified, I don't see how the House can fail to seat him,” Freedman said. “I don't know if that is a fight the House wants to get into.”
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