RALEIGH – Some people have good intuition, and others have good sources – Brant Clifton at the Daily Haymaker usually has both. When the news of possible election fraud in Bladen County hit the wires, the Haymaker had a good sense of just how extensive these practices were in the south eastern corner of the state because it’s his home turf. He implored officials to look deeper into neighboring counties, like Robeson, where fraud has been a fixture of elections for decades.
But when Gov. Roy Cooper’s anointed chairman of the State Board of Elections was forced to resign over overly partisan statements right in the middle of an elections investigation, he replaced him with another appointment whose political roots are set deep in the very counties apparently teeming with corruption and fraud.
The Haymaker was quick to point out that the new chairman, Democrat Joshua Malcolm, is from the Robeson County political machine that has made a business out of rigging elections according locals. Malcolm himself, when hinting at electoral fraud in the 9th District, said he would ‘no longer turn a blind eye’ to fraudulent activities in his own backyard. How long, and to what Malcolm was turning a blind eye to is exactly why calls for him to recuse himself from the election probes are growing.
“We got the ball rolling. NC State Board of Elections chairman Joshua Malcolm is too closely tied to the political machine suspected of being behind sketchy, possibly-illegal election activities in Robeson County. It’s pretty clear Roy Cooper elevated him to chairman to protect the Democrat interests in Robeson County while focusing on alleged Republican activity in Bladen County.
As a member of the Robeson County board of elections, Malcolm led efforts to stymie probes into alleged voting irregularities — typically aimed at the county’s Democrat machine. He is the last person you would pick to oversee a fair, above-board state probe into the electoral doings in that county. The ol’ fox guarding the hen house.”
When the NC Values Coalition followed the trail laid by the Haymaker, they found a plethora of worrisome conflicts that should disqualify Malcolm from leading ANY probes into election fraud, especially those centered in his own back yard.
Dear Governor Cooper;
We are writing to request that you immediately call for the Chairman of the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement (“the Board”), Joshua Malcolm, to recuse himself from the Board’s investigation and the proceedings at the upcoming Board hearing set to take place on or before December 21, 2018. While the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement has stated its ongoing investigation into absentee voting irregularities and other alleged activities in the 9th Congressional District is their top priority, there is evidence that Joshua Malcolm is too partisan to play the role of prosecutor, judge, and jury during this investigation and proceeding.
Malcolm is also the former chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections (one of the two counties under investigation for alleged voter fraud). At the Board’s meeting where Malcolm made a motion not to certify the results of the 9thCongressional District race, he said in a statement, “I’m very familiar with unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state. I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding which has been ongoing for a number of years that has repeatedly been referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys for them to take action and clean it up.” Obviously, Malcolm knew there were absentee voting problems in Bladen County for years, and, as a member of the Board, he had the opportunity to hold up certification of other elections in order to investigate, but he failed to do so. It appears that the results of elections in Bladen County in 2016 were certified by the Board upon the motion of Malcolm, including your own race for Governor, which was contested.
In the last week several individuals with conflicts of interest have stepped up to recuse or resign to assure all North Carolina voters that these proceedings will be fair and transparent. They include Bladen County Republican District Attorney Jon David, Jens Lutz, Bladen County Democratic Board of Election Vice Chair, and former State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Democratic Chairman Andy Penry. In light of these resignations and recusals, it is entirely reasonable to ask for Chairman Malcolm’s recusal.”
The list of legitimate reasons for Malcolm to recuse himself is LONG, and can be found here. They include a failure to initiate any investigations into Democratic groups conducting sketchy election practices in Bladen County; never issuing any subpoenas to the McCready campaign, even though they operated in the same areas with questionable paid GOTV efforts; and failing to ask for any review of other counties in the 9th District, like Mecklenburg, which was won by McCready by only 68 votes.
Regarding that last point:
As highlighted by The Charlotte Observer, it was Mr. Malcolm’s score-settling that started this investigation into the 9th with an unacceptable lack of transparency.
“Chairman Malcolm is guilty of mismanagement of the election process, since he is the only continuing member of the Board from 2016 to present. Chairman Malcolm, while making a motion to not certify the election results in the 9th Congressional District, failed to hold up certification and personally signed the election certificates of all other elections on the same ballot that would have been impacted by any absentee voting and election irregularities. This can only mean that Chairman Malcolm is prejudiced against the winner of that election, Mark Harris. While the board must see this investigation to the end and refer any alleged illegal actions to proper authorities, Chairman Malcolm should recuse himself” according to Tami Fitzgerald of NC Values Coalition.
If the governor does not call on Malcolm to step back due to his association with partisan election games, how are the people of the 9th District, or of North Carolina, supposed to have any confidence in the integrity of their investigations?
So, does Cooper have it in him to do the right thing and make sure the whole process is above board? Unfortunately, probably not, and so confidence in election integrity will remain at a low point.