RALEIGH, NC — Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff to President Donald Trump, will not face voter fraud charges related to his 2020 registration and absentee voting in North Carolina, the state’s attorney general announced Friday.
Meadows, a former congressman from western North Carolina who worked for Trump during his final months in the Oval Office, was an outspoken defender of the former president’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Meadows drew the attention of lawyers from the government when details emerged that he was simultaneously registered to vote in North Carolina and two other states.
Based in large part on the findings of a voter fraud investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, Attorney General Josh Stein told The Associated Press that there is insufficient evidence to justify prosecution of Meadows or his wife, Debra.
“Our conclusion was that they had arguments that would help them if a case were brought that we didn’t think we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they had engaged in intentional voter fraud,” Stein, a Democrat, said in an interview. .
Public records showed that Meadows listed a mobile home in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina, that he did not own as his physical address when he registered to vote on September 19, 2020, while still serving as chief of staff. Meadows cast an absentee ballot by mail from North Carolina for the November general election, when Trump won the battleground state by just over 1 percentage point.
The New Yorker, which first reported Meadows’ 2020 search earlier this year, said the property’s previous owner told the magazine that Meadows’ wife had rented the property for a short period and spent only one or two nights there.
Stein said career prosecutors within his department recommended charges not be filed. In a memo to Stein, Those attorneys said the evidence showed that Meadows and his wife had signed a one-year lease for the Scaly Mountain residence provided by their landlord. Cell phone records indicated Debra Meadows was in and around Scaly Mountain in October 2020, according to the memo, and her husband qualified for a residency exception in state law because he was in public service in Washington.
Elections officials interpret state law so that a person can register for a “permanent place of residence” at least 30 days before an election. Fraudulently or falsely completing a registration form is a low-grade felony.
Although Mark Meadows “almost certainly was never physically present at the Scaly Mountain address,” the memo says, “the factors weighing in favor of Macon County residency outnumber the factors weighing against the residence”.
A Meadows aide did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment on Stein’s decision on Friday. Mark and Debra Meadows had refused to be interviewed by SBI, the memo said.
Stein’s special prosecutor’s office within the Justice Department took over the investigation at the request of the district attorney in Macon County, where Scaly Mountain is located, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Asheville. The prosecutor recused herself because Meadows had contributed to her campaign and appeared in political ads supporting her. The special prosecutor’s office asked the SBI to investigate and the agency completed its initial work last month.
In April, the Macon County Board of Elections removed Meadows from local voter rolls.
Public records also indicate that Meadows registered to vote in Virginia in 2021 and in South Carolina this March after he and his wife bought a home there.
Meadows began raising public suspicions about widespread voter fraud ahead of the 2020 general election, as polls showed Trump trailing President Joe Biden. She repeated those unsubstantiated claims throughout the election cycle and after the race when Trump insisted the election was riddled with fraud.
Election officials from both parties, as well as judges and Trump’s own attorney general, concluded that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Meadows was prominently mentioned in the US House committee that examined the events leading up to the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. While also urging federal prosecutors to “hold” those responsible for conspiring “to put our democracy at risk,” Stein said. in a press release that those issues were not relevant to the fraud allegations his office reviewed.
Stein told the AP that while his investigation is over, the matter could be reopened if evidence from investigations in other jurisdictions is revealed.