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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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Every House Republican But One Just Voted to Shut Down the Federal Government

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212 House Republicans – all who voted but one – voted to shut down the entire federal government Thursday evening. It was an act that would have massive implications for many Americans, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of a new variant, and as the holiday travel season quickly approaches.

The continuing resolution passed 221-212 thanks solely to Democrats and Republican Adam Kinzinger.

Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia “was speaking for virtually her entire conference,” Axios reporter Andrew Solender said in a tweet, when she demanded, “shut it down.”

“This government should be shut down,” Greene angrily cried . “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”

“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” she continued, claiming they “don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”

The crisis is not yet over. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where a small group of Republicans, and currently it appears Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, are demanding Democrats “defund” President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Stay tuned.
 

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Watch: Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for Government Shutdown Because ‘The People in Here Cannot Control Themselves’

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Congress has about 30 hours to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to allow the federal government to stay open past Friday midnight. And while nearly everyone is on board, from President Joe Biden to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, some powerful members of Congress are trying to prevent the CR from passing.

They include Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who oppose vaccine mandates and are trying to include an amendment to “defund” President Biden’s executive order.

And then there’s Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just wants to shut it down.

Literally, those were her words: “shut it down.”

“This government should be shut down,” Greene said minutes ago on the House floor, as Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports. “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”

Why is Greene demanding a full federal government shutdown?

“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” declared Greene, who was stripped of all her committee assignments almost immediately upon being sworn in to Congress. “The people in here don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”

According to information from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget shutting down the federal government could force TSA and air traffic controllers to work without pay, and could halt new applications for federal assistance like Medicare, and halt EPA and FDA inspections – possibly leading to massive illness on top of the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.

That’s just for starters.

New mortgage and loan approvals could be halted as the IRS would be unable to verify Social Security numbers, and people who receive food stamps could lose that vital source of funds.

 

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Joe Manchin Appears to Be Siding With Republicans Who Are Pushing to Shut Down the Government Over Vaccine Mandates

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‘Quickly Turning Into a Joe Manchin Rodeo’

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is being described as the necessary and “most likely” the “51st vote” for shutting down the federal government over President Joe Biden’s vaccine “mandate.” Republicans, especially Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, are working to pass an amendment that would ban vaccine mandates nationwide, in exchange for voting to keep the federal government open, just weeks before Christmas.

Sen. Mike Lee, a far right pro-Trump Christian conservative from Utah, “wants an amendment to strip money from vax mandates at 50-vote threshold.” says Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman. “If he gets it, he’ll consent to speed up proceedings, which would likely — almost certainly — avoid a shutdown.”

If he doesn’t, it’s possible the federal government could shut down on Friday.

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis says “as with most things round these parts, this is quickly turning into a Joe Manchin rodeo.”

CNN’s Manu Raju adds that Sen. Manchin “doesn’t rule out supporting [an] amendment to DEFUND vaccine mandate on businesses. This is why Republican Sens. Marshall and Lee are demanding a 51-vote threshold. Says he backs mandate on feds but tells us he’s ‘less enthused’ with business mandate.”

At CNN Raju and other reporters explain the situation:

Key negotiators from both parties announced a plan Thursday morning that would keep the federal government funded, but due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday, and a handful of GOP senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules.

Stay tuned.

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