RALEIGH – Democrat Joshua Malcolm was the member of the State Board of Elections that intitiated the motion to not certify the 9th Congressional District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. Commenting on his motion, Malcolm said:
“I’m very familiar with unfortunate activities that have been happening down in my part of the state. And 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.”
Those comments suggested that Malcolm had knowledge, ‘for a number of years,’ about sketchy vote harvesting practices in his home turf. Malcolm is an attorney from Robeson County, and was the Vice Chair of the Board at the time. He was later appointed the chair position by Gov. Roy Cooper, as the now dissolved Board was in the thick of the NC-09 fraud investigation.
According to a report from WBTV’s Nick Ocshner, Malcolm’s familiarity with ‘unfortunate acitvities’ may have stemmed from his frequent contacts leading up to the election with one of the investigation’s key targets.
“Records show the immediate past Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections had frequent contact in the days leading up to the 2018 general election with a Bladen County Democrat who is among those interviewed by NCSBE investigators.
WBTV has learned Malcolm was in frequent communication with Jens Lutz, a Bladen County Democrat whose name has emerged in several ways as the current investigation has unfolded.
Lutz—who has a lengthy arrest record in counties across the state, including a conviction for impersonating a police officer—served as vice chairman of the Bladen County Board of Elections during the 2018 election.
He resigned suddenly from that position in early December, days after he was questioned by NCSBE investigators.
Lutz also once owned a political consulting business with McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County political operative who worked for Mark Harris’ campaign for Congress in 2018 who is accused of running an illegal ballot harvesting operation.”
So what were Malcolm and Lutz talking about, and why didn’t Malcolm divulge his communications to the investigative staff?
Judging from this report, getting the Board and/or Malcolm to provide communications records between the two men was like pulling teeth. The Board provided a couple of texts in a ‘nothing to see here’ kind of way, but then when pressed further more communications were revealed. The calls and texts picked up in the days immediately preceding the election.
The Board’s attorney told Ocshner that it is not uncommon for Board member to talk with County Board members on investigative tips, but Malcolm is not a Board investigator. Further, Malcolm was mum when the Board members were asked to disclose anything that would constitute, or appear to constitute, a conflict of interest. That was at the November 27 meeting at which Malcolm made his motion to not certify the race. He kept his communications with a key figure in the whole saga a secret, even when he was dorectly asked to disclose such communications.
So what is Malcolm hiding? That is one of many questions raised by this report. A back channel line of communication between partisan Democrat elections officials immediately preceding a motion to block certification of a Republican victory looks sketchy, to say the least.
The details WBTV was able to obtain hardly allay any concerns of a conflicted oversight operation. Read those details in the Ocshner’s report here.