RALEIGH — The political operative and alleged absentee-ballot fixer at the center of the North Carolina 9th Congressional District election fraud scandal, Leslie McCrae Dowless, was arrested on Wednesday, February 27, following a grand jury indictment for felony obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and for the unlawful possession of absentee ballots. Dowless was taken into custody early Wednesday morning, according to the office of Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, under a $30,000 bond. Dowless was also instructed to break contact with all alleged co-conspirators named the indictment. The indictment accuses Dowless of submitting absentee ballots and container-return envelopes for those ballots to the Bladen County Board of Elections “in such a manner to so as to make it appear that those ballots had been voted and executed in compliance” with current regulations laid out in the state’s General Statutes, “when in fact they had not. “As a result,” the signed indictment continued, “these spoiled absentee ballots were counted by the local Board of Election and the total tally forwarded to the State Board of Elections...resulting in the counting of spoiled absentee ballots that had not been executed in compliance with state law.” Dowless was employed by GOP congressional candidate Mark Harris through the political consulting firm known as Red Dome Group. On election day, Harris appeared victorious by a gap of only 905 votes; although official certification did not follow once evidence of Dowless’ alleged ballot-tampering scheme came to light. After three days of tumultuous hearings, the state board found the evidence in favor of fraud so compelling that they unanimously chose to order a new election . Harris told media on Tuesday, February 26 that his name will not be on the new ballot and instead endorsed Stony Rushing, a Union County Commissioner. Rushing, a father of two, has an animal agriculture background and owns the Take Aim Training Range, a shooting range. According to Freeman’s office the investigation into criminal misconduct is considered “ongoing,” and that within a month the State Bureau of Investigation will have received the bulk of the elections board’s evidentiary findings. The indictment also includes charges related to Dowless’ work on State Senator Todd Johnson’s campaign during the primary contest leading up to the 2016 general election. Johnson ultimately lost the primary, coming in third, but claimed an unusually high number of absentee votes: 221 out of a total of 226 submitted. Harris testified that Dowless’ absentee ballot efforts for Johnson were so impressive that he decided to hire the operative for his 2018 campaign.