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‘Winning’ Anti-Gay Religious Right Candidate Mired in Ballot Fraud Inquiry Drops Demand to be Seated in Congress

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North Carolina GOP candidate Mark Harris from one of his campaign ads

North Carolina’s state board of elections has spent the week hearing testimony in an investigation of suspected absentee ballot fraud that prevented the board from certifying what had appeared to be a narrow 2018 election victory for Religious Right candidate Mark Harris in North Carolina’s ninth congressional district. Late on Thursday the board voted to hold a new election to fill the seat.

One dramatic high point of the hearings came on Wednesday, when Harris’s son John testified that he had warned his father against hiring the campaign operative at the center of the fraud allegations. Another came on Thursday, when Harris eventually reversed his previous efforts to be seated in Congress and said he believed a new election should be held. WBTV’s Nick Ochsner live-tweeted the proceedings.

Harris is a pastor and a Religious Right favorite who was supported by Karen Pence, “historian” David Barton, Christian nationalist David Lane, and Trump-promoting “prophet” Lance Wallnau, among others.

John Harris testified that he had repeatedly warned his parents that Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless was a “shady character.” When Mark Harris took the stand on Thursday, and was asked how to reconcile his son’s testimony with his previous public statements that no one warned him about Dowless, Harris said “I did not believe John’s emails to be a warning.” Responded one board member, “It’s painfully clear your son meant, ‘Daddy, don’t mess with this guy.’”

In fact, the very reason his son was concerned about Dowless—the consultant’s involvement in dubious primary election results in 2016, when Harris narrowly lost a challenge to incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger—is the reason Harris was so intent on hiring him for his 2018 rematch. He wanted to win and thought Dowless could deliver.

As the Washington Post reported last year, “One person said Harris’s decision to hire Dowless stemmed partly from his realization that he would have defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger” in 2016 if he had won the mail-in vote in Bladen County by as large a margin as a different challenger—one who had hired Dowless—did.

The improbable 2016 primary returns—the incumbent congressman got just one mail-in vote from the county, Harris got four, and the candidate who hired Dowless got 221—was a red flag to Harris’s son that Dowless was not just encouraging people to request and use mail-in ballots, but was illegally collecting them. That is what Dowless is charged with doing on Harris’s behalf last year—perhaps completing empty ballots or neglecting to return those marked for another candidate. Dowless has denied breaking the law, but state investigators said on Monday they had uncovered evidence of “a coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme operated during the 2018 general election in Bladen and Robeson counties.” Harris denied knowing about any wrongdoing.

Last November, when the state election board decided not to certify the election, Harris had already been in D.C. taking part in events for newly elected members of Congress. In January, as other members of the 2018 class were being sworn in, Harris asked a court to require that the board certify him as the winner, saying “there should be no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the outcome.” On Thursday, he abandoned that position.

Harris, a pastor affiliated with the Family Research Council, became known in politics as an anti-LGBTQ activist. He was an ally of the anti-LGBTQ Behnam brothers in opposing a Charlotte nondiscrimination law. Harris had also helped organize and finance the 2012 Amendment One campaign to place a ban on same-sex couples marrying into the state constitution.  He made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate but he was defeated in the 2014 primary.

When Harris took on Pittenger for the second time in 2018, he portrayed the primary as a battle for “the heart and soul of the Republican Party.” The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins celebrated Harris’s primary upset—now also tainted. The Christian Broadcasting Network reported that Christian nationalist David Lane was among Harris’s “staunchest supporters.”

“There is no realm that God has made an exception for that He doesn’t intend for believers to be salt and light,” Harris told the Christian Broadcasting Network after his primary win. “Every arena God expects us to be engaged.”

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, traveled to North Carolina to campaign for Harrislast October as part of a “Women for Mark Harris” bus tour; also appearing was Debbie Meadows, wife of Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows. At that event, Elizabeth Johnston, a.k.a. “Activist Mommy,” said Harris had assured her that he would end abortion, “No exceptions.” Academic-turned-Religious Right activist Carol Swain said Harris was among the “godly” men and women answering God’s call to service in office. Christian TV host Donica Hudson declared, “It is a God mission that we are on.”

RELATED STORIES:

ELECTIONS BOARD FINDS EVIDENCE OF ‘COORDINATED’ FRAUD TO SUPPORT ANTI-LGBT PREACHER’S ELECTION TO CONGRESS

 

This article originally appear at Right Wing Watch and is reprinted here by permission.

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‘Train Wreck’: Herschel Walker Criticized for New Ad Claiming God Helped Him ‘Overcome’ His Mental Illness

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After a damning article claiming he paid for one of his girlfriend’s abortions, Republican U.S. Senate nominee for Georgia, Herschel Walker, is out with a new ad that claims he has “overcome” his mental illness thanks to God, while he attacks his incumbent opponent, Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, who he baselessly says “doesn’t even believe in redemption.”

Walker’s own campaign compared the Daily Beast’s report – that says Walker even signed a card mentioning the abortion he reportedly paid for – to Donald Trump’s 2016 “Access Hollywood” video, which almost cost him the election.

Back then, Republicans denounced Trump for a few days before immediately coming back to support him. The Walker revelations are arguably worse, given the GOP’s attempts to ban all abortion, calling fetuses “unborn babies” that deserve all legal protections of born human beings, while declaring abortion murder.

READ MORE: Watch: Herschel Walker Says if Georgia Voters Don’t Elect Him They Won’t Even ‘Have a Chance to Be Redeemed’

And yet, not one Republican has denounced Walker. Donald Trump even rushed out a statement supporting him.

“Reverend Warnock’s running a nasty, dishonest campaign,” Walker says in his new ad, not mentioning – not even denying – that he paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion.

“The Reverend doesn’t even tell my full story,” Walker cries, as if that’s his political opponent’s job.

“As everyone knows, I had a real battle with mental health. Even wrote a book about it. And by the grace of God, I’ve overcome it,” he claims.

READ MORE: ‘Everything Has Been a Lie’: Christian Walker Drops Damning New Video Blasting His Father’s ‘Lies’ Over Abortion

“Warnock’s a preacher doesn’t tell the truth, he doesn’t even believe in redemption,” Walker says, a claim he has repeatedly made despite offering nothing to support the claim. Warnock has even written about redemption.

The ad was posted online by Walker’s deputy campaign manager.

It was immediately panned.

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, the head of its fact-checking unit, says the new ad, “presumably in response to [the] Daily Beast story, mentions his book ‘Breaking Free’ being about [a] redemption story — it is worth noting the alleged abortion took place a year after the book was released.”

Speaking of redemption, Walker’s repeated attack that Warnock does not believe in redemption appears wholly false.

Warnock, who is also the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church until his assassination, criticized then-President Donald Trump in 2018 after the president called certain African nations “shithole countries.”

Trump signed a proclamation honoring Dr. King, in hopes of not losing more support.

“To sign a proclamation honoring Dr. King hours after this kind of hate-filled speech makes a mockery of Dr. King,” Rev. Warnock said on CNN. “I would argue that a proclamation without an apology is hypocrisy.”

“There is no redemption without repentance and the president of the United States needs to repent,” Warnock said, belying Walker’s recent claims.

Attorney Luppe B. Luppen expands on Kaczynski’s reporting.

“Walker published his book “Breaking Free” on April 1, 2008, approximately a year and a half before he reportedly wrote a check to reimburse a woman he had been dating for an abortion on September 17, 2009.”

Walker has stated he was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, which was once known as “multiple personality disorder” or “split personality disorder.”

Political consultant and former Republican, Tim Miller, now an independent and a well-known guest on cable news shows, panned Walker’s ad.

“The end of this ad is absolutely sick,” he observed.

Talking Points Memo founder and publisher Josh Marshall summarizes Walker’s ad:

“So the ad actually says warnocks a liar and then references mental health battle to I guess imply some or all of the stuff is true. Still I used to be violent and crazy but I’m totally better now is a tough closing message.”

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, referring to the infamous “I am not a witch,” campaign ads, tweeted, “Did Christine O’Donnell direct this?”

University of Florida professor Michael McDonald took that one step further, commenting, “I am not a witch.”

Baptist minister Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor & President and author of four books on religion and politics blasts Walker.

“Ad is theological & political train wreck. He claims without evidence Warnock (Baptist pastor) doesn’t believe in redemption. And why is he asking voters to decide state of his soul. ‘Saved by Grace’ as political slogan? He’s acting like there should be religious test for office.”

Watch Walker’s new ad above or at this link.

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‘Oddest’: Legal Experts Mock Trump’s ‘Nutty’ and ‘Doomed to Fail’ Emergency Supreme Court Motion

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It weighs in at 240 pages but legal experts are still mocking Donald Trump’s emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an 11th Circuit Court ruling and allow the special master to continue to inspect the 103 classified documents retrieved from him Mar-a-Lago home.

“Oddest SCOTUS petition. Very technical and not terribly logical,” observed Andrew Weissmann, an NYU School of Law law professor and former DOJ official who served as the General Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and as special counsel to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The motion was addressed to Justice Clarence Thomas,  who oversees the 11th Circuit courts. His wife, Ginni Thomas, is an avowed supporter of Trump and his “Big Lie” claims he won the 2020 election.

READ MORE: Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene for Him in Classified Documents Case

“SCOTUS should send him packing,” tweets former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. “No surprise here, this was why he paid former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise $3 million to sign on, no one else on his team could handle this.”

“Just watch SCOTUS turn Trump down 9-0. (Or 8-1 if Thomas dissents . . . ),” writes retired Harvard professor of law Laurence Tribe. “Will The Donald start calling ‘his’ three justices traitors? Will he say they have a ‘death wish’ as he did with McConnell?”

Weissmann took another hit at Trump’s Lawsuit, declaring it “nutty.”

“Trump argument to SCOTUS: 11th circuit had power to stay Cannon decision BUT it [could] not take the classified docs away from SM Dearie review. Nutty and if he won Dearie wd just say he won’t review the docs bc they are not Trump’s.”

University of Texas School of Law professor of law Steve Vladeck says that while the lawsuit is “not *entirely* laughable,” but he thinks “it’s both (1) doomed to fail; and (2) unlikely to accomplish much even if it succeeds.”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says, “I would not be surprised if the Supreme Court decides not to hear it.”

 

 

 

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Biden Will Include DeSantis in His Visit to Support Florida Hurricane Victims

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President Joe Biden will travel to Florida Wednesday to support families devastated by Hurricane Ian, and will include the state’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, in his trip, the White House announced Tuesday.

Last week, asked if he would meet with DeSantis, a top detractor of the president, Biden told a reporter who asked, “I’ll meet with everybody who’s around. The answer is yes, if he wants to meet.”

“This is not about anything having to do with our disagreements politically, this is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses,” Biden also said last week.

DeSantis asked President Biden for financial assistance for his state, battered by what experts say is one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history. DeSantis voted against relief aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy when he served in Congress.

President Biden and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, will travel via Air Force One to Fort Myers, one of the hardest-hit areas of Florida by Hurricane Ian.

READ MORE: Watch: 2024 Presidential Hopeful Ron DeSantis Says ‘Cause for Concern Cause’ With Democrats Moving to Florida

But Fort Myers is also part of Lee County, where officials delayed evacuation orders.

“Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee,” The New York Times reported. “By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate.”

“Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee,” the Times added. “By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate.”

The St. Louis Post Dispatch blasted the Florida GOP governor, calling his “flip-flop on hurricane relief” a “study in right-wing hypocrisy.”

READ MORE: ‘Premeditated, Fraudulent, and Illegal’: Asylum Seekers Sue DeSantis After Being Sent to Martha’s Vineyard

“DeSantis’ willingness to shelve his usual attacks on the Biden administration to politely request emergency federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Ian is an inspiring example of constructive bipartisanship — as is Biden’s announcement that the government will bear a big part of the expense,” the Dispatch Editorial Board stated. “It’s interesting, though, that DeSantis took exactly the opposite stance a decade ago when he joined other hard-right members of Congress who argued against generous federal recovery aid when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast.”

Over the weekend DeSantis was blasted by volunteer relief aid workers who were delayed for hours in distributing “food, water, medicine, diapers, and anything else people needed” so Gov. DeSantis could get a photo-op.

 

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