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In election fraud hearings to decide a contested 2018 House race, GOP candidate's son testifies that he warned his father of potential problem


Democrats are accusing the Republican candidate of election fraud after a narrow victory

David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images

There is still one undecided seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Republican candidate, Mark Harris had initially seemed to have eked out a narrow victory by less than a thousand votes. But then his opponents brought accusations of election fraud against his campaign, accusations that while still unverified were serious enough to keep the election in flux.

Now Harris' son has testified during the North Carolina Board of Elections' evidentiary hearing that he warned his father about the political consultant with a felony record at the heart of the controversy.

What's the background?

Republican Mark Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready in November by a narrow margin of only 905 votes. The state board of elections has still refused to certify these results until it completes its investigation.

A large part of the case against Harris focuses on a political operative who worked for his campaign named Leslie McCrae Dowless, who is also a convicted felon. Dowless has been implicated in past instances of election fraud. State election officials have been investigating whether or not Dowless paid people to manipulate ballots during the 2018 election.

Dowless has refused to testify unless he can be promised immunity.

What happened now?

Harris's son, John Harris, testified Wednesday that he had warned his father about Dowless. He said that his testimony wasn't based out of any ill will toward his father.

"I love my dad and I love my mom. OK?" he said. "I certainly have no vendetta against them. No family scores to settle, OK? I think that they made mistakes in this process and they certainly did things differently than I would have done them."

Before John's testimony, Mark Harris had insisted that he had never heard of any problems with Dowless's background before the election. Dowless had been hired through an outside group.

In an email from during the campaign presented at the testimony, John Harris wrote to his father about Dowless's work during the 2016 election, saying, "The key thing that I am fairly certain they do that is illegal is that they collect the completed absentee ballots and mail them at once. The way they pop up in batches at the board of elections makes me believe that."

During 2016 election, Dowless worked for another GOP candidate, not Harris.

Despite his testimony, John Harris said he did not think his father believed at any point that Dowless was involved in anything corrupt.

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