GOP operative McCrae Dowless dies awaiting trial for North Carolina election fraud: report
NC GOP operative Leslie McCrae Dowless. Image via Twitter.

The Republican political consultant at the center of an alleged voter fraud scheme has died, his attorney told Channel 9 TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"A Channel 9 investigation in 2018 uncovered allegations that [McCrae] Dowless paid people to illegally collect absentee ballots for Republican candidate Mark Harris. Harris’s opponent, Dan McCready, conceded to Harris on election night, but weeks later the North Carolina Board of Elections voted not to certify the election results," the station reported.

While awaiting trial for alleged voter fraud, Dowless was convicted of Social Security fraud. He was supposed to have started his prison sentence on April 1, but that apparently was delayed again as he battled cancer.

"In February 2019, the state board of elections called for a new election in North Carolina’s District 9 congressional race. It is the only time in documented history a federal election was overturned for a fraud investigation," the network reported. "Also in February 2019, Dowless was arrested on fraud charges tied to the 2016 general election and 2018 primary election. Months later, a grand jury in Wake County indicted Dowless and six others for charges tied to the 2018 general election."

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman released as statement that the other trials will continue.

"There remain about six others charged related to this matter and we will be moving forward with those cases with the understanding that the State’s position was always that Mr. Dowless was the principle coordinator of the ballot process in question," she said.

Journalist Joe Bruno of Channel 9 won the prestigious George Polk Award in 2019 for his reporting that blew open the scandal.