Republican Mark Harris avoided media questions Friday night about North Carolina's 9th District fraud allegations.
Harris spoke at the Cabarrus County Republican Party Christmas Gala but used a back entrance to circumvent the press.
New questions raised in a Washington Post story Friday claimed Harris directed the hiring of Leslie McCrea Dowless, the man in the middle of the investigation.
The Post reported Harris was actually aware Dowless might have used questionable tactics involving absentee votes in previous elections.
During a taping NBC Charlotte’s "Flashpoint" that will air Sunday, political science professor Scott Huffmon from Winthrop University said if the Post story is true, Harris has some explaining to do.
"He went out of his way to seek the person who was in charge of that and personally hired them. I think that tells us all that he knew what was going on," said Huffmon.
The state board of elections is investigating Dowless, absentee votes in two eastern counties, and any links to the Harris campaign. On Friday evening, the board announced a public evidentiary hearing would be held on January 11, 2019, at 10 a.m.
"State investigators are awaiting additional documents from parties subpoenaed in this matter and finalizing the investigation prior to the hearing," the board said.
Sworn affidavits claim Dowless might have collected, altered, even thrown out some absentee ballots in Bladen County.
“It’s time for Josh Malcolm to man up,” said union GOP Chair Daniel Barry about state board of elections chair Josh Malcolm. “You cannot continue to move the goalpost. The longer this takes, the more disenfranchised voters of the 9th Congressional District, the people deserve to know exactly what is going on and what the process is going to be.”
Barry, a close friend of Harris, was hesitant to completely support or attack the congressman-elect.
"Right now, you believe Mr. Harris when he says he knew nothing about this?" asked NBC Charlotte's Savannah Levins.
"I don’t know what Mark knew or what he didn’t know I do know that there something rotten in Bladen County," said Barry.
If there is a new election, Huffmon said taxpayers should not have to cover the estimated cost of at least a quarter of a million dollars.
“The people of North Carolina should not be footing the bill when somebody knowingly planned to hire somebody who was going to invalidate an election,” said Huffmon.
With the hearing set for January 11, Harris, who beat Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, will not be able to take his seat in Congress after the new year.