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.”
This article originally appear at Right Wing Watch and is reprinted here by permission.
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George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation
The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.
“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”
“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”
Regardless, Santos is taking action.
The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.
Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.
“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.
It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.
Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.
‘They’re Not Taking My Gas Stove’: Joe Manchin Teams Up With Hard Core Republicans to Promote False Claims
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is again promoting the false claim that the federal government is planning to remove gas stoves from private homes, after news last month revealed once more the open-flame appliances are responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of children’s asthma.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out,” said Manchin, who has made millions from coal and protects his state – which ranks in the top five for production of natural gas – at every turn.
Manchin, a rare breed of conservative Democrat, announced in a Senate hearing on Thursday that he is teaming up with Republican Senators Ted Cruz and James Lankford to fuel the unfounded fears of the federal government coming to rip gas stoves out of Americans’ homes – fears promoted by the right.
“Gas stoves have been in the news lately and I’ve come out strongly against the Consumer Product Safety Commission pursuing any ban of gas stoves,” Manchin declared, despite there being no possibility of that. “In fact, I’m introducing legislation today with Senator Cruz that would ensure that they don’t and separately sending a letter to the commission with Senator Lankford.”
“I’ve always been a proponent of energy efficiency,” Manchin continued, “but the draft proposes efficiency levels that DOE [Dept. of Energy] says at the highest level, up to 96% of gas stoves don’t currently meet. I don’t like where I think they’re going with this and I tell you one thing, they’re not taking my gas stove put. My wife and I would both be upset.”
Manchin went on the claim the Biden administration is “looking to find ways to push out natural gas.”
And he warned the feds to stay out of his kitchen.
“Like I said before,” Manchin declared, “the federal government doesn’t have any business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
The federal government does have a responsibility, by law, to warn Americans of health and safety issues in their homes. For decades it has been doing just that.
But the West Virginia Senator went even further, stating: “retrofitting or removing stoves that people have had for years is not going to happen.”
Manchin isn’t just blowing smoke – he has a lot at stake in the “gas stove war.”
“West Virginia is the fourth-largest producer of marketed natural gas in the nation,” according to a federal government December report.
“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action,” The New York Times reported last year. It called the West Virginia Democrat “the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy.”
Watch Sen. Manchin below or at this link.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out!” pic.twitter.com/P4zFGC6Kqp
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 2, 2023
‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)
Trump White House press secretary turned Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been chosen by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to deliver the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address next week.
Speaker McCarthy hailed Huckabee Sanders, 40, as the nation’s “youngest governor” on Thursday afternoon in remarks to reporters (below).
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 2, 2023
The former press secretary was quickly endorsed by Trump, ran a campaign carefully crafted away from the press, and has no relevant experience to run a state.
“Can Sarah Huckabee Sanders be elected governor without ever taking questions or talking specifics about public policy?” Arkansas Times’ senior editor Max Brantley asked rhetorically last summer, calling her campaign “stealth.”
“Her inauguration marks the first time in 42 years Arkansas will have a governor without any experience in elected office,” the AP noted last month.
“She clearly has some national aspirations,” University of Arkansas political science professor Janine Parry told the Associated Press last month. “In order to fulfill those, it’s likely she’ll have to show some capacity for governance.”
According to Speaker McCarthy, she has already accomplished a lot in her first 23 days as governor.
Although McCarthy did not offer any specifics, CNN did: “Within 48 hours of being sworn in as governor, Sanders signed a flurry of executive orders, with one targeting critical race theory ‘to prohibit indoctrination’ in schools and another banning the use of the term ‘Latinx’ in official state documents.”
After the announcement was made, Huckabee Sanders tweeted, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to address the nation after the State of the Union on Tuesday. What America needs – and what Republicans are offering – is a return to common sense and a commitment to the ideals that made America the land of the free and home of the brave.”
But in a joint statement with McCarthy and McConnell, Huckabee Sanders took a much different tone.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to address the nation and contrast the GOP’s optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats. We are ready to begin a new chapter in the story of America – to be written by a new generation of leaders ready to defend our freedom against the radical left and expand access to quality education, jobs, and opportunity for all.”
Responding to the news, critics online pointed to Huckabee Sanders’ history that was fraught with controversy and false claims in the Trump White House.
Indeed, conservative critic Charlie Sykes on MSNBC pointed to Huckabee Sanders’ ties to Trump, telling Andrea Mitchell that Huckabee Sanders was “a firehose of misinformation and disinformation” during the “Trump era,” and noted she has been “prioritizing the culture war” in her short tenure as governor.
“Yet another data point about the Republican party not moving on from the Trump years,” he added.
GOP taps Sarah Huckabee Sanders to deliver the Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday, a pick that Charlie Sykes says is “yet another data point about the Republican party not moving on from the Trump years.” pic.twitter.com/eXAasOQWQ9
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 2, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
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