Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows won’t be prosecuted for voter fraud after he was accused of illegally casting a ballot in 2020 elections from an address in North Carolina that he does not use.
State prosecutors investigated Mr Meadows and his wife, Debra, after it was revealed that the former congressman registered to vote from a mobile home in the state that he never owned, visited or lived in.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement on Friday that there was no evidence the couple “knowingly swore to false information considering the signed lease” and noted that Mr Meadows is “explicitly excepted from certain residency requirements as a result of his service to the federal government.”
“The State Bureau of Investigation conducted an extensive investigation into the fraud allegations against Mr and Mrs Meadows concerning their registration and voting in the 2020 elections,” according to the statement. “After a thorough review, my office has concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to bring charges against either of them in this matter.”
Mr Meadows, who amplified Donald Trump’s baseless narrative of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, is at the centre of investigations connected to the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021, as Trump allies and members of Congress texted the former White House chief of staff to pressure then-President Trump to subvert the outcome.
In the months leading up to and following the election, and before a single ballot was even cast, Mr Trump and his allies repeatedly sought to discredit absentee voting efforts. They claimed without evidence that voting by mail is a “disaster” and “out of control” and used by Democratic officials to “rig” and “steal” the election.
Mr Trump also has voted by mail using his address in Florida.
Mr Meadows represented North Carolina in the US House of Representatives from 2013 to 2020. Six weeks before the 2020 election, the couple registered to vote using the address of a three-bedroom mobile home in Scaly Mountain. They also requested mail-in ballots in 2016 and 2020 to be delivered to the Washington DC area.
The state’s voter registration form asks specifically for the address “where you physically live”.
In several instances, Mr Meadows also sought to pressure officials at the US Department of Justice to investigate election fraud conspiracy theories, including debunked allegations amplified by QAnon groups that fuelled mob violence at the Capitol.
A PowerPoint presentation bearing the exact title as one that Mr Meadows turned over to a House select committee investigating the attack included spurious allegations that China had effective control of American voting machines and urged the declaration of a “national security emergency” as a pretext for throwing out election results in several US states.
During an August 2020 interview with CNN, Mr Meadows warned against people registering to vote in multiple places.
In his statement, Mr Stein said that Mr Meadows made “numerous unfounded, damaging allegations about voter fraud both before and after the 2020 election” and referenced the House select committee’s investigation into the events surrounding the 6 January, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, with Mr Meadows as a “likely co-conspirator” in the insurrection.
“This attempt to disrupt the peaceful transition of power represents one of the most significant assaults on our democracy in the 246-year history of our nation,” Mr Stein added. “The appropriate authorities will now fully vet these referrals. I urge federal prosecutors to hold accountable every single person who engaged in a conspiracy to put our democracy at risk.”
Mr Stein noted that the events surrounding January 6 are not relevant to the state’s investigation into voter fraud allegations.