WAKE COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The man at the center of last year’s controversy in Bladen County that led to several elections, including one for US House to be redone, now faces more criminal charges.
According to a news release from the Wake County District Attorney, a Wake County grand jury today indicted McCrae Dowless on new charges of felony obstruction of justice (two counts), perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballot. This is the second second of charges against Dowless related to an investigation into absentee ballot activity in Bladen County. He was indicted in February on similar charges. The DA’s Office says Dowless is still subject to a $30,000 secured bond set in the other related cases.
The indictment accuses Dowless of submitting absentee ballots that had not been handled legally as well as getting other people to help in the alleged scheme, including getting them to sign witness certifications when they had not been a true witness and having them mail in ballots to hide the fact that the voter had not mailed the ballot himself. He’s also accused of lying under oath about similar alleged operations during the 2016 campaign.
Dowless has long been known as a political operative in Bladen County. Last year he worked for Republican Mark Harris’s campaign for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District seat. Harris, who had narrowly unseated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary, beat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. But questions about Dowless’s handling of ballots in the race led to a drawn-out protest and investigation that ended with the NC State Board of Elections calling for a redo of the whole election, as well as some county-level races.
NC Sen. Dan Bishop won May’s Republican do-over primary over nine other candidates. He faces McCready, who did not have a primary challenger, in a special election Sept. 10.
The 9th District remains the only open seat in the US House.
Also indicted today were Lisa Britt, Ginger Eason, Woody Hester, James Singletary, Tonya Long, Jessica Dowless and Kelly Hendrix on charges of conspiracy to commit felonious obstruction of justice and other charges. They have reach received a $10,000 bond for the charges connected to the 2018 election.
The DA says Hendrix’s charges are from issues in the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Britt is also charged with voting as a felon.
According to the release, the investigation by state and federal agencies continues.
The DA’s Office says the defendants are expected to turn themselves in over the next few days.
An attorney for McCrae Dowless told WWAY this afternoon she had not yet heard of the new indictments, so she could not comment on them.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates as they become available.