Friday News: Culpability

AFTER BEING WARNED ABOUT FRAUD, MARK HARRIS HIRED DOWLESS ANYWAY: North Carolina congressional candidate Mark Harris, a Republican from Charlotte, directed the hiring of a campaign aide now at the center of an election-fraud investigation, according to three individuals familiar with the campaign, despite warnings that the operative may have used questionable tactics to deliver votes. Harris sought out the operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, after losing a 2016 election in which Dowless had helped one of Harris’s opponents win an overwhelming share of the mail-in vote in a key county. State and local investigators say that whether Harris knew that his campaign may have engaged in improper tactics has become a focus of the expanding probes into whether election irregularities affected the 9th District election, in which Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes.

AUTHORITIES STILL SEARCHING FOR DUKE RAPIST: The search continued Thursday night for a man accused of raping a Duke University student in an on-campus apartment building. An alert sent to Duke students said that the student said a man entered her apartment building on Duke's Central Campus between 1 and 3 a.m. while she was sleeping in a common room. The man, who had short brown hair and smelled of perfume, threatened her with a knife, put on a condom and forced her to have sex. "As a woman, you get told all these things you can do to avoid these types of things, and it's like, sometimes there's not a whole lot that you can do," said Kassie Shannon, a medical student. Right in the middle of final exams, students are now feeling extra stress. "It's really scary. I feel terrible for that person that it happened to," said Shannon. "It sort of makes you think like nowhere is really safe, I guess." Anyone with information about the incident can call Duke University police at 919-684-2444.

TIM MOORE FLIP-FLOPS ON SCHOOL BOND, NOW WANTS $1.9 BILLION: When teachers protested by the thousands in Raleigh this summer, one of their demands was for voters to have the chance to approve additional state spending for education funding, like building new schools. Republican leaders in the N.C. General Assembly shot that idea down at the time. But they appear to have now changed their minds, with House Speaker Tim Moore announcing his plans to support a $1.9 billion education bond next year. If it passes the legislature in 2019, it would be on the ballot in 2020 for voters to decide on. “Education is what matters most to families and businesses — to the private and public sectors alike — and North Carolina is poised to build on historic commitments to our schools with another long-term investment in capital construction for our rapidly growing student population,” Moore said in a press release. Most of the money would go toward building new schools, Moore said, while about $600,000 would go to the state’s university and community college systems.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN UNDER SCRUTINY OVER FOREIGN FUNDING: The inquiry focuses on whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds. The super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, was formed in the summer of 2016 when Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign was short of cash and out of favor with many major Republican donors. While Mr. Trump insisted that he could finance his own campaign, he refused to dig too deeply into his own pockets. According to several of the people familiar with the investigation, Paul Manafort, who then headed the campaign, suggested that Mr. Barrack step into the void by creating and raising funds for the political action committee, which could collect unlimited amounts of money as long as it avoided coordinating closely with the candidate.

SERBIA FURIOUS OVER KOSOVO VOTE TO FORM NATIONAL ARMY: Kosovo's parliament on Friday overwhelmingly approved the formation of an army, angering Serbia which talked up the possibility of an armed intervention in response. NATO's chief called Kosovo's move "ill-timed" and urged dialogue to maintain peace in the war-scarred region. The 120-seat parliament voted with all present 107 lawmakers in favor of passing three draft laws to expand an existing 4,000 Kosovo Security Force and turn it into a regular lightly armed army. Ethnic-Serb community lawmakers boycotted the vote. Serbia insists that the new army violates a U.N. resolution that ended Kosovo's 1998-1999 bloody war of independence. It has warned bluntly that it may respond to the move with an armed intervention in the former province, with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic saying it was "one of the options on the table." On Friday, Nikola Selakovic, an adviser to the Serbian president, said the country could send in Serbian armed forces or declare Kosovo an occupied territory.