NCDP Clips 12/7/18

Today’s daily clips from the NCDP

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Democrats call of emergency hearing into election fraud allegations in North Carolina
MSNBC // Hallie Jackson // December 6, 2018
Summary: As more allegations of election irregularities and fraudulent activities continue to surface, House Democrats call for emergency hearing into election fraud allegations in North Carolina House race. NBC News’ Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Democrat McCready takes back concession in disputed 9th congressional district race
Charlotte Observer // Ely Portillo, Tim Funk // December 6, 2018

Summary: McCready conceded the race the day after the Nov. 6 election and did not ask for the recount he was entitled to in such a close election. But last week, questions began about the absentee ballots in Bladen and neighboring Robeson County. The state elections board refused to certify the results, citing “claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots,” according to Joshua Malcolm, who was bumped from the board’s vice chair to its chairman by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, on Monday. A political operative named McCrae Dowless has emerged as the focus of allegations that he led a network of people who collected absentee-by-mail ballots en masse, which is forbidden under N.C. law. The state Board of Elections and the Wake County District Attorney have launched investigations.

Harris campaign owes $34K, in part for disputed Bladen absentee effort
WRAL // Travis Fain // December 7, 2018

Summary: Mark Harris’ congressional campaign owes more than $34,000 for absentee turnout work to a consultant that contracted with a get-out-the-vote specialist in Bladen County who is at the center of an ongoing investigation into quirky results in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The campaign filed a post-election fundraising document Thursday with the Federal Election Commission, disclosing a number of donations and expenses from the waning days of the election, as well as debts still owed. Several of those debts are due to Charlotte-based Red Dome Group, one of the campaign’s primary consultants. Red Dome founder Andy Yates has said the group contracted with McCrae Dowless in Bladen County, and Dowless is thought to be the point man for an absentee ballot mining operation that the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is targeting as part of an investigation that may end up forcing a new election in the 9th District.

“I Don’t Vote” — But He Did. Here’s How Alleged Election Fraud Works In North Carolina.
BuzzFeed News // Otillia Steadman // December 6, 2018

Summary: Chris Eason is 47 years old, not registered to any political party, and worked in construction. He’s into camping and boating, and has lived in this rural town most of his life. What Chris Eason does not do is vote. “I just don’t vote. I don’t believe it. Do nothing but lie anyway,” Eason told BuzzFeed News about politicians. “Everybody’s crooked and they’ll do anything they can to get put in office.” But, technically, Eason does vote — he says he’s just not the guy casting the ballot. Eason told BuzzFeed News that he signed a blank absentee ballot in the now-contested Nov. 6 general election, didn’t actually pick any candidates, and then handed the unsealed ballot to the man at the center of an unfolding election fraud scandal, McCrae Dowless.

Republican officials had early warnings of voting irregularities in North Carolina
WAPO // Amy Gardner, Beth Reinhard // December 6, 2018

Summary: When GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his primary by a narrow margin in May, he suspected something was amiss. The congressman turned to a group of friends and family who had gathered with him on election night at a steakhouse near Charlotte and blamed the “ballot stuffers in Bladen,” according to three people at the gathering. Pittenger’s concern stemmed from the vote tallies in rural Bladen County, where his challenger, a pastor from the Charlotte suburbs named Mark Harris, had won 437 absentee mail-in votes. Pittenger, a three-term incumbent, had received just 17. In the days immediately after the race, aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee that they believed fraud had occurred, according to people familiar with their discussions.

Channel 9 looks into claims of absentee ballot fraud in Robeson County
WSOC // Paul Boyd // December 6, 2018

Summary: Channel 9 traveled to Robeson County Thursday to dig into allegations of election fraud involving absentee ballots.​ Jennifer Boyd told Channel 9 she was simply helping people who didn’t have time to go to the polls after we found her signature on 55 absentee ballots. She admitted to helping fill out 52 of those ballots herself.

Irregularities found in second North Carolina county in contested House race
CNN // Eric Bradner, Adam Levy, Majile de Puy Kamp, Konstantin Toropin // December 6, 2018

Summary: A CNN review of absentee ballot envelopes has found irregularities with witness signatures in a second North Carolina county. Dozens of absentee ballots were witnessed by four people in Robeson County, which is adjacent to Bladen County — the place investigations by the state elections board and state and local prosecutors had been focused. The people who witnessed multiple ballots are loosely connected to Leslie McCrae Dowless, the political operative who is being investigated for alleged election fraud.​

North Carolina Republicans Express Increasing Doubts on Disputed Election
NY Times // Alan Blinder // December 6, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Republicans expressed mounting doubts on Thursday about a disputed congressional race that their candidate once seemed to have won, with one of the state party’s most influential figures saying a new election could be appropriate in the wake of fraud allegations. Lawmakers and strategists, effectively abandoning days of demands that state officials swiftly certify Mark Harris as the winner of the Ninth District’s House campaign, said they worried that absentee-ballot fraud may have infected both the November election and the Republican primary, which the incumbent, Robert M. Pittenger, lost in May. Mr. Pittenger has raised concerns about voting irregularities.

‘An innocent victim’: Amid election fraud claims, NC GOP defends Mark Harris
N&O // Brian Murphy, Tim Funk, Paul A. Specht // December 6, 2018

Summary: The executive director of North Carolina’s Republican Party on Thursday defended GOP candidate Mark Harris as an “innocent victim” and downplayed a report that incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger’s campaign alerted the party to voting irregularities in Harris’ primary upset in May. In the primary in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, Harris received 437 mail-in absentee votes in Bladen County to Pittenger’s 17, according to state board of election records. Harris won the race — a rematch of his narrow 2016 loss — by 828 votes.
N&O // Ned Barnett // December 6, 2018
Summary: What appears to be brazen absentee ballot fraud in Bladen County involving the 9th Congressional District race mirrors a pattern seen repeatedly in past elections in other North Carolina counties, according to two former state elections officials. Gary Bartlett, who served as executive director of the State Board of Elections from 1993 to 2013, and Marshall Tutor, a former lead investigator of the board from 2003 to March of this year, said they have seen similar manipulations of absentee ballots in other rural counties, but they were unsuccessful in getting local, state and federal law enforcement officials to act on the cases. “We’ve reported it. We’ve had the (State Bureau of Investigation) turn us down,” Bartlett said. “There have been referrals (to local prosecutors) and nothing has been done.”​

GOP, Democrats spar over ballot fraud investigations
Progressive Pulse // Joe Killian // December 6, 2018
Summary: As revelations of apparent ballot fraud continue in the state’s Ninth Congressional District race and calls for a new election grow louder, GOP lawmakers and Democratic party officials traded barbs over who should be investigating the matter and how. “Any fraud is unacceptable in the state,” said Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican who represents the Ninth District, which has seen five ballot fraud investigations since 2010.​

Potential election fraud and power grabs happening across U.S.
MSNBC // Stephanie Ruhle // December 6, 2018
Summary: Watch Stephanie Ruhle explain new disturbing details in North Carolina as the investigation into potential election fraud gets bigger and post-election power grabs in Michigan and Wisconsin continue. Weighing in: NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell, New York Times Opinion Columnist Bret Stephens, and Vanity Fair Special Correspondent William Cohan.

GAIL COLLINS: N.C shows Trump gets it all wrong on voter fraud
WRAL // CBC Opinion // December 6, 2018

Summary: Midterm election update from the Department of Irony: Republicans have been warning us about the danger of voter fraud for ages. And now it does appear that a major congressional race was impacted by that very type of evil-doing. Feel free to chortle/snort/howl at the moon when I tell you the accused fraudsters are Republicans. The fictional version of voter fraud involves sinister characters — possibly illegal immigrants! — showing up at the polls repeatedly, perhaps disguising their nefarious intent by wearing different hats or an occasional false mustache.

House Democrats Could Take Action On The North Carolina Election Scandal
BuzzFeed News // Lissandra Villa // December 6, 2018
Summary: A growing number of House Democrats on the Oversight Committee want to investigate the North Carolina 9th congressional district race, where the close finish is being scrutinized as reports of stolen absentee ballots continue to emerge and the race has been left uncertified. House Democrats are fast approaching a new Congress where they’ll be in the majority and able to pursue whatever investigation they like, and more and more Democrats are expressing outrage over the alleged tampering with ballots in the race in which Republican Mark Harris beat Democratic candidate Dan McCready by only 905 votes.

Pelosi: House could take ‘extraordinary step’ on NC election
AP // Lisa Mascaro // December 6, 2018
Summary: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says the chamber could take the “extraordinary step” of calling for a new election in a North Carolina congressional district if the winner is unclear amid allegations of voter fraud. Pelosi said Thursday the House “retains the right to decide who is seated.” She said “any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member elect.”

There’s Finally a Persuasive Case of Election Fraud, and Republicans Don’t Care
The Atlantic // David A. Graham // December 6, 2018

Summary: One early sign that something about McCrae Dowless wasn’t on the up-and-up came in November 2016. With the race between North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper down to a razor-thin margin, Republicans filed claims of voter fraud with county boards of election around the state. The GOP was aiming to delegitimize Cooper’s lead and to legitimize years of effort to overhaul voting laws to make them more restrictive, claiming serious fraud. In Bladen County, in the southeastern part of the state, Dowless, who had won a race for soil and water commissioner, alleged that “literally hundreds of fraudulent ballots” were cast in his race. When he was called before the North Carolina State Board of Elections to discuss his complaint, he was unable to answer specific questions about his allegations. More astonishingly, Dowless at one point deflected a question by invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination—even though the board was hearing a complaint he himself had filed.

North Carolina Republican Leader Says He’s Open to New Election in Disputed District
NY Times // Alan Blinder // December 6, 2018

Summary: The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party said Thursday that a new election may be appropriate in the state’s Ninth Congressional District, where allegations of fraud have cast doubts on the fairness and accuracy of the vote count. If the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement can state “there was a substantial likelihood that the race could have been altered, then we would not oppose a new election,” said the executive director, Dallas Woodhouse.

Documents show Bladen Co. PAC employees witnessed more than 100 absentee ballots
WBTV // Nick Ochsner // December 6, 2018

Summary: A review of absentee ballot covers for ballots cast in Bladen County in the 2018 general election show two people associated with the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC witnessed more than 100 absentee ballots. The documents were posted by the North Carolina State Board of Elections as part of its investigation into ballot irregularities in the 9th Congressional District Election. Specifically, investigators have focused on questions surrounding absentee ballots cast in Bladen County and Robeson County. Much of the public scrutiny has revolved around a man named McCrae Dowless, who was paid by a company working for the Mark Harris Campaign.

In addition to Dowless, WBTV has identified two other coordinated efforts targeting absentee ballots.

‘Charlotte is Creating Its Own Amazons’: LendingTree Brings Hundreds of Jobs to Meck. County
Spectrum // Tabitha Corley // December 6, 2018
Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper and county officials announced Thursday that the marketplace which connects customers with lenders will bring 436 new jobs to the county over the next five years. They say the average annual salary will be $101,140 and will vary on experience and the positions available. It is estimated that the project will grow North Carolina’s economy by $969 million over the 12-year grant term. County officials say they support their investment of $686,878 over the next seven years.

WWAY // Staff // December 6, 2018

Summary: Governor Roy Cooper visited Surf City Thursday to survey restaurants damaged by Hurricane Florence and see firsthand how the recovery effort is going. Surf City and the rest of Topsail Island suffered a lot of damage during the storm and as recovery efforts continue, residents and business owners want to know that they aren’t being forgotten. Governor Cooper visited Daddy Mac’s and Gallagher’s Restaurant, which have both reopened since the hurricane.​

‘Everyone Needs to be Ready’ | NC Gov. Roy Cooper’s Warning Ahead of Possible Winter Storm
WFMY // Staff // December 6, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is urging North Carolinians to prepare in light of this weekend’s anticipated winter storm, which would be the first one of the season. Cooper says power outages and slick roads are possible in the coming days. The WFMY News 2 weather team agrees the Piedmont is likely to see hazardous and even dangerous travel at times on Sunday and Monday, with neighborhood roads potentially staying rough for several days. Power outages are a possibility given the likelihood that we’ll see a heavy, wet snow. Possible ice, sleet and freezing rain could also cause problems.


Why coastal Carolina may never recover from its intensifying hurricanes
PBC // Nsikan Akpan // December 6, 2018

Summary:Floods leave too much behind. That’s how Sherry Henderson described life in Pollocksville about 40 days after Hurricane Florence. The storm flooded half of this North Carolina town, which sits on the banks of the Trent River, about 50 miles from the coast. For days, floodwaters stewed in the Henderson’s two-story home, where the family had lived for 26 years. Florence wiped out the family’s kitchen, den and master bedroom, and lifted the garage off its foundation. More than a month after the storm, mounds of mattresses, couches, framed pictures still lined the Hendersons’ street, along with a few pianos. Unlike a wildfire, which burns everything, a flood ruins and spoils. Flood survivors often spend days picking through their soiled belongings, deciding what to salvage and what to shed. Despite never being troubled by flooding in the past, the Hendersons feel now is the time to decide between rebuilding or moving on.


As Voter Fraud Scandal in North Carolina Deepens, Democrats Push Voting Rights Bill
Real News Network // Staff // December 6, 2018
SummaryTar Heel Democrats are voting to expand voter rights, while Republicans push voter IDs to hold on to power. We speak to NC state representative Graig Meyer

NC Senators call for creation of committee to evaluate District 9 voting irregularities
WECT // Mark Davenport, Nick Ochsner // December 6, 2018

Summary: Three Republican Senators from North Carolina are calling on Governor Roy Cooper to create a bipartisan task force to investigate voting irregularities spanning multiple election cycles, including the 2016 gubernatorial election. Senator Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Tommy Tucker (R-Union), and Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) are calling for a bipartisan task force because they believe the group would be “better equipped to conduct a legitimate probe.” “Our state is now in the national spotlight over the NC-9 investigation, and the latest information clearly indicates a widespread and long-standing pattern of irregularities in Bladen County that spans both parties,” said Sen. Bishop. “We need a bipartisan task force to conduct an investigation free from any charges of politically-motivated actions.”​

North Carolina voter ID bill goes to Gov. Roy Cooper
N&O // Lynn Bonner // December 6, 2018

Summary: A bill requiring North Carolina voters show photo identification before casting ballots at the polls beginning next year won final approval in the state Senate. The voter ID bill that now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature was approved as scrutiny of possible election fraud in the 9th Congressional District intensifies. The investigation is focused on mishandling of absentee ballots. Senate Democrats on Thursday failed to delay a vote until an election fraud investigation is complete. The legislature’s bill deals mostly with voters showing IDs at the polls. “We cannot claim to be addressing the real issue of voter fraud,” said Sen. Terry Van Duyn, an Asheville Democrat.

N&O // T. Keung Hui // December 6, 2018
Summary: In an age where fears of school violence are at an all-time high, some North Carolina lawmakers want to address the problem by taking steps such as requiring students to learn about civic responsibility and how to stop bleeding in trauma situations. The state House School Safety Committee unanimously adopted a final report Thursday that includes recommendations such as more money for school safety grants and expanded civic education and first aid training for students. The committee avoided discussing controversial topics such as access to guns. “Some of the things that we’ll be providing today may raise eyebrows,” said Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican and committee co-chairman. “But the effort here is a positive effort to move forward, and I think if nothing else it raises the awareness that we have to start talking about this.

Wake fire station may get legislative reprieve after all
WRAL // Matthew Burns // December 6, 2018

Summary: A day after it appeared that a legislative proposal to protect a fire station in southern Wake County was dead, the House revived it Thursday morning and gave it preliminary approval. House Bill 1110 targets Fairview Fire Station 2 on Ten-Ten Road, which was a candidate for closure earlier this year as part of a broader plan that included a new fire station nearby in Garner. Neighbors rallied for the 55-year-old station, and the Wake County Board of Commissioners backed off, promising a study instead of a more immediate decision. Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, rolled out a bill this week during the lame-duck legislative session to remove the Fairview Rural Fire Protection District from Wake County’s jurisdiction and allow it to answer to its own board instead. Fire protection service taxes would stay the same, but they would benefit only the new department and its surrounding district instead of being shared countywide.
Steinburg aide pleads guilty to larceny, must repay $25K
DailyAdvance // Jon Hawley // December 6, 2018
Summary: State Rep. Bob Steinburg’s legislative assistant has pleaded guilty to stealing from her former employer, Pigman’s Bar-B-Que in Dare County, District Attorney Andrew Womble confirmed on Wednesday. Diana London pleaded in Dare County Superior Court to a misdemeanor larceny charge and will make full restitution to Pigman’s Bar-B-Que in the amount of $25,000, Womble said in a phone interview. The $25,000 is how much London admitted stealing from her then-employer over 2017, and she is to pay $10,000 of that sum by Dec. 10, and the rest by May 10, 2019, he said.

Lawmakers Move to Reign in Inmate Drug Costs​
NC Health News // Rose Hoban // December 6, 2018

Summary: Even though members of the General Assembly have said they’ve come to Raleigh for a short, special session to pass bills related to Hurricane Florence relief funding and create rules around voter identification, lawmakers are also pushing the state’s prison system to change the way it purchases some expensive drugs given to inmates. A bill that has moved quickly through both the Senate and the House of Representatives would also compel health care providers in the state’s prisons to watch as inmates take pricey medications, a practice known as directly observed therapy, or DOT.​

Republicans call for additional investigation in 9th District fiasco
WRAL // Travis Fain // December 6, 2018

Summary: Republican state senators called Thursday for a new investigation into the results of the 9th Congressional District election, as well as into election irregularities going back years in Bladen County. They said there’s a partisan taint on the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement’s current inquiry. The senators said Gov. Roy Cooper should appoint a bipartisan task force, and they criticized past iterations of the board – including one appointed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory – for failing to follow up on allegations that have dogged Bladen County elections for years.

Flu Season 

Health department confirms 5 flu deaths in North Carolina so far in the 2018-19 season
ABC-11 // Staff // December 6, 2018

Summary: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released Thursday that the state saw one new flu death last week, bringing the total to five for the season. During the 2017-2018 flu season, 391 deaths were reported in North Carolina, making it one of the deadliest flu seasons the state has seen. Of those 391 deaths, 290 were people age 65 and older and seven were children under the age of 18.​

Attorney General Josh Stein

NC Attorney General wants to see more protections for medical services in Mission-HCA deal
Mark Barrett // Asheville Citizen Times // December 4, 2018

Summary:  State Attorney General Josh Stein said Tuesday he wants to see changes in the proposed sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare to ensure the interests of Western North Carolina residents are protected.​

Thousands to get debt erased after collector crackdown in North Carolina
ABC-11 // Tonya Simpson // December 4, 2018
Thousands of North Carolinians will soon get some debt relief thanks to a newly announced settlement. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced the state reached a $6 million settlement with Encore Capital Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries Midland Credit Management, Inc. and Midland Funding LLC. Midland will completely eliminate or reduce judgment balances for approximately 2,176 North Carolinians valued at $3,327,099. All of the cases were filed between 2003 and 2009 and involve Midland using an affidavit against the individuals in court.​

NC Judiciary

The diverging fates of two N.C. lawyers who battled over voter suppression
Facing South // Billy Corriher // December 6, 2018

Summary: When the North Carolina legislature passed a restrictive voting law in 2013, civil rights attorney Anita Earls warned that it would lead to “citizens turned away and not allowed to vote, more provisional ballots cast but many fewer counting, vigilante observers at the polling place and all disproportionately impacting black voters.” Earls, who was then executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham, filed a lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of voters. 

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