Harris campaign owes $34K, in part for disputed Bladen absentee effort
Federal election filing shows debt to Red Dome, the consultant that ties back to local operative at center of 9th District probe.Posted — Updated
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.
John Branch, a Raleigh attorney for the Harris campaign, declined comment on the matter Friday, saying the campaign is not discussing the investigation beyond a statement issued earlier this week that confirmed it received a subpoena for documents from the State Board, which it was reviewing, and emphasizing that the campaign "was not aware of any illegal conduct in connection with the 9th District race" and intended to cooperate with investigators.
The State Board has confirmed it also subpoenaed Red Dome in this inquiry, as well as the campaign for Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, who won re-election this November and has not returned WRAL News requests for comment. Red Dome founder Andy Yates, who worked with the Harris campaign, also has not returned WRAL calls and emails.
Based on affidavits collected by the North Carolina Democratic Party, interviews with voters in Bladen and Robeson counties who've been visited by investigators and interviews other media outlets have obtained with people who say they worked for Dowless, the state board is targeting him over accusations that he sent people door to door to collect absentee ballots, which is a crime.
Bladen and Robeson counties saw high percentages of mail-in ballots requested but never returned to election officials to be counted. In Bladen County, where Dowless has done absentee and get-out-the-vote work for years, the percentage was above 40 percent. In neighboring Robeson County, it was upwards of 60 percent.
For other counties in the 9th District, these percentages were in the 20-30 percent range, leading to concerns that someone was taking ballots from people in Bladen and Robeson counties that were never counted.
District-wide, more than 3,400 ballots went unreturned. In Robeson County alone, it was more than 1,000.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has a criminal investigation ongoing as well, a process that she said includes reviewing campaign finance documents and seeking various financial records.
That voter ended up voting in person, though, making that particular absentee ballot irrelevant in the election results.
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