Madison Cawthorn faces primary voters on Tuesday
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) will face primary voters on Tuesday amid multiple controversies that have built up around him in recent months.
Cawthorn is being challenged by state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who has been endorsed by North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R), and several other candidates for the Republican nomination in the state’s 11th Congressional District.
GOP candidates for the seat also include Rod Honeycutt, Michele Woodhouse, Matthew Burril, Wendy Nevarez, Bruce O’Connell and Kristie Sluder.
Recent polling has indicated that the incumbent Cawthorn has more support among primary voters than other candidates.
A poll commissioned by the Republican GOPAC Election Fund found found that Cawthorn dropped from 49 percent support among respondents in March to 38 percent in April.
If he secures that share of the votes in Tuesday’s primary, Cawthorn would still clear the 30 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.
However, the April polling, conducted on April 25 and 26, doesn’t reflect the most recent controversies confronting Cawthorn.
The 26-year-old congressman was cited for attempting to take a loaded gun through security in a North Carolina airport on April 26, prompting Democrats to request a Transportation Security Administration crackdown on firearms and further gun regulations in the U.S. Capitol.
A day later, Tillis called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate Cawthorn over allegations of insider trading related to the congressman’s support for Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency.
“Insider trading by a member of Congress is a serious betrayal of their oath, and Congressman Cawthorn owes North Carolinians an explanation. There needs to be a thorough and bipartisan inquiry into the matter by the House Ethics Committee,” said Tillis.
The anti-Cawthorn American Muckrakers PAC filed an ethics complaint against the North Carolina lawmaker the same week that raised concerns about gifts Cawthorn allegedly gave to his congressional office scheduler, a distant cousin the congressman claims is like a brother to him. Their longtime personal friendship and other exceptions to House rules governing gifts make that situation murky, however.
The ethics complaint was accompanied by a video of Cawthorn making sexual jokes with the same male staffer.
In the most recent and most fiery incident, the same PAC posted a video showing Cawthorn in the nude, which the congressman later deemed “blackmail.”
“I’m NOT backing down,” Cawthorn tweeted after the release of the video, which he excused as depicting him and a friend “acting foolish, and joking.”
These scandals follow others surrounding Cawthorn that have accumulated since the beginning of the year.
The congressman was hit with a legal challenge in January that aimed to disqualify him from running for a second term over his participation in a rally preceding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The lawsuit was ultimately blocked by a federal judge in early March.
Republican leadership took issue with Cawthorn publicly after he claimed in March that he had been invited to an orgy by fellow lawmakers and that he had seen other members of Congress doing cocaine. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in response to Cawthorn’s comments, “He’s got to turn himself around.”
McCarthy earlier called out Cawthorn for referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “thug” and the Ukrainian government “incredibly corrupt and … incredibly evil” just two weeks after Russia’s invasion of the country.
“Madison is wrong,” McCarthy stated clearly.
In another controversy, a secretly recorded phone call was released in April in which a former Cawthorn staffer accused him of denying her medical and family leave while working for him and later firing her from her job improperly. The lawmaker and his office vehemently denied the allegations.
The winner of the May 17 GOP primary vote will face off against a Democrat for the seat in a Nov. 8, 2022, election.
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