The Post reported in December that when Republican Robert Pittenger lost in the primary, he went to the state party with concerns about fraud:
Pittenger’s concern stemmed from the vote tallies in rural Bladen County, where his challenger, a pastor from the Charlotte suburbs named Mark Harris, had won 437 absentee mail-in votes. Pittenger, a three-term incumbent, had received just 17.In the days immediately after the race, aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee that they believed fraud had occurred, according to people familiar with their discussions.
The fraudulently elected primary winner, Harris, went on to the general election — where the ballot fraud continued, leading to the do-over election.
And then things got worse. Harris’s replacement in the special do-over election is state Sen. Dan Bishop. Last October, the Charlotte Observer reported:
Republican Sen. Dan Bishop said he invested $500 in Gab, which billed itself as a free speech platform. It later became popular with white supremacists and Robert Bowers, the alleged killer of 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.“I made a $500 crowdfunding investment 14 months ago in a startup called Gab, which promoted itself as a new, unbiased social media platform,” he tweeted. “I don’t use Gab, but if its management allows its users to promote violence, anti-Semitism, and racism on the platform they have misled investors and they will be gone quickly, and rightfully so." . . . .Bishop’s involvement was first reported Tuesday in the Daily Mail. It cited an August 2017 Facebook post, in which he said, “I’m about done with SF thought police tech giants’ Big Brother routine, and so ... I just invested in a free-speech social network startup mentioned in a Washington Post article today, Gab.ai,” he wrote. “Free markets are the answer to many kinds of tyranny.”Bishop’s 2017 post came days after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville left one counter-protester dead. Gab, a site similar to Twitter, attracted neo-Nazis and other controversial far right figures, according to the Washington Post. The site was coming under fire after Charlottesville. Google barred the site from its Google Play Store.In a subsequent lawsuit against Google, Gab said it had 268,000 users a year after opening to the public in 2016. It billed itself as a free speech platform.Accused Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers posted on gab shortly before going to the synagogue, according to The New York Times.
Yes, days after Charlottesville, Bishop invested in a platform that was a hangout for neo-Nazis, touting his investment as a blow to “political correctness.”
A Charlotte Observer editorial debunked Bishop’s insistence that he did not know the nature of the site when he invested in August 2017. The editorial explained that Gab had been operating for a year and “had amassed $1 million-plus from more than 1,000 investors, and it already was well-known as a controversial social network for the far right.” Moreover:
In fact, the Washington Post article Bishop cites in his Aug. 17 Facebook post — “Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns” — detailed how tech companies were taking action against sites that handled hate content and were home to hate groups. In that report, Gab is mentioned prominently as being “founded in August 2016 by Silicon Valley engineers alienated by the region’s liberalism.”Also, on the very same day that Bishop said he invested in Gab, the site’s app was banned from the Google Play store for hate speech.To believe Bishop’s remarks this week, you also would need to believe he wasn’t aware in 2017 of Gab’s links to hate groups — despite common knowledge and the article he cited — and that he did he not investigate or even explore the site before giving it $500 of his money.
In sum, the NC-9 is undergoing a rerun due to fraud that the GOP state party could have nipped in the bud, and the GOP nominee is the fellow who invested in a far-right website home to white nationalists. How is the GOP getting away with this?
Well, Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn, former Republicans who ran as an independent conservative presidential ticket in 2016 and now operate the nonpartisan StandUp Republic (SUR) and American Values PAC dedicated to good government, defense of the rule of law and opposition to racism, decided to step in. McMullin and Finn’s organizations plan to spend a total of $500,000 in the final weeks of the upcoming special election in the 9th Congressional District for advertisements across digital, broadcast television, cable and radio.
This is an unusual effort for SUR and American Values PAC, which enter political races only when they believe “a particular election will have a direct impact on the health of American democracy,” a spokesman explained. For example, they made significant efforts to defeat Roy Moore in the special Alabama Senate race in 2017 and Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in 2018.
Here are SUR’s two ads set to run in the final weeks of the campaign in support of Democrat Dan McCready:
American Values PAC’s ads feature prominent Republicans, including a former state supreme court judge, touting Democrat McCready.
McMullin says their opposition to Bishop takes on new urgency in the wake of the El Paso shooting and new awareness of the threat of violent white nationalists. “The American republic is increasingly facing the threats of anti-freedom movements and ideologies such as violent white supremacism and political authoritarianism,” he told me. “The two are closely related in their rejection of the essential truth that all are created equal, and both are at issue in this special election." He argued, "Republican leaders’ election fraud, Dan Bishop’s effort to protect them from accountability, and his early investment in a social media platform because it welcomed white supremacists must be opposed by citizens of all political affiliations.” He added, “When we reject corrupt, divisive figures like Dan Bishop at the ballot box, we create the incentives for others to uphold and strengthen our democracy rather than destroy it.”
Finn likewise sees the need to stanch efforts to normalize or minimize the danger from right-wing white nationalist groups. “Violent extremist movements are on the rise, and Americans are increasingly afraid and losing trust in our core American institutions,” she tells me. "We need leaders who will work to solve these problems, not exacerbate them. This is not a time for protecting the corrupted status quo; it’s time to take a principled stand for democracy.”
The district is solidly red (President Trump won it by 12 points), and Bishop is trying to paint McCready as a stooge of the left-wing "Squad” in Congress. In normal political times, that might be sufficient to secure a GOP win, but we are hardly in normal times. After the GOP’s shenanigans in the NC-9 and 2½ years of Trump playing footsie with white nationalists, the NC-9 voters have the opportunity to send a message that some things are more important than partisan loyalty.