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Key figure in 9th District inquiry still won’t submit to interview

January 18th, 2019

— State elections investigators still have not interviewed McCrae Dowless, the Bladen County man at the center of the ongoing saga holding up final results in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race.

Dowless declined interviews back in December, and State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon confirmed Thursday that hasn’t changed. Gannon said he couldn’t confirm whether Dowless has been subpoenaed for records.

The state board dubbed Dowless a “person of interest” in its investigation weeks ago. Several people have told reporters that Dowless paid them to pick up absentee ballots, a felony under North Carolina law due to tampering concerns.

It’s unclear whether Dowless has been interviewed by criminal investigators. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman’s office is overseeing that case, and she declined to say Thursday evening. She said earlier this week that she hopes the inquiry will wrap in 30 to 60 days.

Dowless has declined repeated media interview requests. He put out a statement through his attorney last month denying any illegal activity.

In that statement, attorney Cynthia Adams Singletary said she and Dowless looked forward “to addressing all questions and concerns in the proper forum.”

A state board hearing on the inquiry was once planned for Jan. 11, but that was canceled when a state court dissolved the board as part of a separate lawsuit over the body’s makeup, which the court deemed unconstitutional.

Republican Mark Harris has filed in court to force the state board’s executive director to declare him the winner in the 9th District. Harris seemed to win this race by 905 votes before concerns were raised about Dowless, who worked for his campaign, and the state board declined to certify results.

A hearing in that legal effort is scheduled for Tuesday.

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