Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-CONGRESS-THE LATEST
North Carolina congressional candidate withdraws concession
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Democratic candidate trailing in a North Carolina congressional race marked by an absentee fraud investigation has withdrawn his concession to the Republican.
Dan McCready made his announcement late Thursday in a video posted on social media. Unofficial results showed Republican Mark Harris leading McCready by 905 votes in the south-central 9th Congressional District. But state election officials have refused to certify the results while looking at potential absentee ballot irregularities in at least two counties.
McCready called the reports of potential wrongdoing “shameful criminal activity, bankrolled by my opponent” to take away the right of North Carolina resident to vote. Harris’ chief political strategist had hired a Bladen County man who has become the focus of many allegations.
The state elections board plans to hold a hearing later this month and could order a new election.
HARASSMENT FROM JAIL
Man pleads guilty to beating woman, harassing her from jail
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man charged with beating a woman and then harassing her from jail has pleaded guilty.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Lewie Robinson was charged in May with assaulting a woman who had taken out a protective order on him. From the Buncombe County Detention Center, he called the victim in the assault 223 times over the span of four months, even though he was to have no contact with her.
In late June, police served Robinson in jail 28 additional arrest warrants for having violated the domestic violence protective order.
The newspaper reported Thursday that the 54-year-old pleaded guilty to assault inflicting serious injury and assault by strangulation, misdemeanor assault and violating the order. He was sentenced to a minimum of 3 1/2 years in prison
Pelosi: House could take ‘extraordinary step’ on NC election
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says the chamber could take the “extraordinary step” of calling for a new election in a North Carolina congressional district if the winner is unclear amid allegations of voter fraud.
Pelosi said Thursday the House “retains the right to decide who is seated.”
She said “any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member elect.”
Officials in North Carolina are investigating voter fraud allegations. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by about 900 votes, but results are not certified.
Pelosi is nominated to become House speaker when Democrats take control in January. The House Administration committee has “full investigative authority to determine the winner,” she said.
It’s “bigger than that one seat,” she said, but about the “integrity of elections.”
WINTER WEATHER-NORTH CAROLINA
Parts of North Carolina told to brace for major winter storm
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The National Weather Service is telling parts of North Carolina to expect a major winter storm during the weekend and last into next week.
Forecasters at the weather service office in Raleigh say the storm moving across the Southeast brings a high likelihood of wintry precipitation and significant impacts to central North Carolina.
According to the weather service, travel will be hazardous where the wintry precipitation is expected, especially on Sunday. There is also the threat of power outages as soggy soil, accumulation of snow and ice and gusty winds could bring down trees and take power lines with them.
The greatest snow amounts are expected in northwestern areas of the state. To the east, up to 2 inches of rain is possible and could lead to localized flooding.
Voter ID implementing bill finalized, heads to governor
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly has finalized legislation implementing the voter photo identification mandate approved in a statewide referendum last month.
The Senate voted 25-7 on Thursday to accept House changes to the measure and sent it to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, a voter ID opponent. Republicans in charge of the legislature can override a Cooper veto if they stay united.
Senate Democrats urged GOP colleagues to delay the vote until an investigation into absentee ballot fraud in the 9th Congressional District is complete. The measure directs state election officials to set rules requiring mail-in ballot requesters to provide ID.
Thursday’s vote led about 50 protesters to sing and chant outside the House and Senate gallery in opposition. They left when police told them to quiet down or face arrest.
MUSIC TEACHER-SEX CHARGE
Police: Grammy winner forced woman into sexual servitude
CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) – A Grammy Award-winning music teacher in North Carolina is accused of using promises of a singing career to force a student into sexual servitude.
Clayton police said in a statement Thursday that 60-year-old Ivan Hampden Jr. was arrested at his home. He’s charged with several counts of sexual servitude and disseminating obscenity.
Investigators say Hampden tied up the woman in a back room of his music school and recorded various sex acts, then sent video recordings and images of the acts to the victim. They say the woman in her 50s took singing lessons there from 2014 through August. Police say a relative helped her contact police.
It’s unclear if Hampden has a lawyer.
He received Grammy recognition in 2004 for work on multiple R&B performances, including one by Beyonce and Luther Vandross.
North Carolina race shines light on ‘ballot harvesting’
HELENA, Mont. (AP) – An investigation into whether political operatives in North Carolina illegally collected and possibly stole absentee ballots in a still-undecided congressional race has drawn attention to a little-known political tool called ballot harvesting.
It’s a practice long used by special-interest groups and both major political parties. It’s viewed either as a voter service that boosts turnout or a nefarious activity that subjects voters to intimidation and makes elections vulnerable to fraud.
The groups rely on data showing which voters requested absentee ballots but have not turned them in. They then go door-to-door and offer to collect and turn in those ballots for the voters – often dozens or hundreds at a time.
In North Carolina, officials are investigating whether Republican political operatives harvested ballots and then did not turn them in.
LendingTree to add 436 jobs; doubles North Carolina presence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Online service LendingTree says it plans to double its presence in North Carolina’s largest city.
News outlets report Gov. Roy Cooper and iMecklenburg County officials announced Thursday that the company that matches lenders with consumers will add 436 jobs over the next five years that pay an average of over $100,000.
Under a deal approved by the North Carolina Economic Investment Committee, the company will receive $8.37 million in state incentives for the Charlotte-based company. According to the deal, LendingTree also is expected to receive $542,818 from Mecklenburg County and $612,560 from the city.
The company currently employs approximately 490 workers in Charlotte.
CEO Doug Ledba, who launched the company in Charlotte in 1996, said the expansion includes a range of job functions, from engineering to finance to data analytics.