Outgoing Rep. Madison Cawthorn Ordered to Pay $15,000 After House Ethics Investigation

Madison Cawthorn

Madison Cawthorn

Madison Cawthorn.
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

A House panel this week said that Rep. Madison Cawthorn violated ethics rules, ordering him to pay more than $14,000 to charity after he promoted a cryptocurrency from which he allegedly benefited financially.

In its report issued Tuesday, the House Ethics Committee said Cawthorn “acted in a manner that did not reflect creditably upon the House.” As a result, the committee said it had directed him to pay “$14,237.49 to an appropriate charitable organization by December 31, 2022” and to pay $1,000 in late filing fees to the Department of the Treasury within 14 days of the release of the report.

The 27-year-old North Carolina Republican was the subject of the bipartisan ethics investigation following a report that he may have been involved in insider trading.

The Washington Examiner uncovered a photo posted on Instagram Dec. 29, in which Cawthorn posed with the hedge fund manager who created the “Let’s Go Brandon” cryptocurrency.

In a comment below the photo, Cawthorn — who the Examiner reported has publicly said he owns the currency — wrote, “Tomorrow we go to the moon!”

Just one day later, the coin’s value spiked some 75% after NASCAR driver Brandon Brown — whose name has become synonymous with the anti-Biden “Let’s go Brandon” chant — announced the coin would be his primary sponsor.

A fellow North Carolina Republican, Sen. Thom Tillis, was among those who called for the investigation, writing on Twitter earlier this year: “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.”

The House Ethics Committee clarified in its report that they did not find evidence strong enough to suggest insider trading, but did find the aforementioned ethics violation.



Rep. Madison Cawthorn.

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Cawthorn, who was elected in 2020 at age 25, has a history of headline-making behavior and sometimes controversial remarks, and has built his national profile both on his personal backstory (he uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed in a car crash) and his penchant for Trump-style provocation.

The lawmaker has previously stirred up controversy for a racist campaign statement about Sen. Cory Booker, for his vote to overturn the 2020 election despite no evidence of widespread fraud, and for more recent comments about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which he subsequently clarified.

But the controversy seemingly reached a crescendo in April, after Cawthorn suggested on a podcast that other, older lawmakers in Washington, D.C. were doing drugs and engaging in orgies.

That comment caused notable friction between Cawthorn and other members of the GOP, including House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who said the young lawmaker had “lost [his] trust.”

Cawthorn was elected to represent North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District but announced in November 2021 that he was seeking a second term to fill a new seat created in the state’s redistricting process. He switched back after courts struck down North Carolina’s new congressional map.

Cawthorn lost his primary race in May, ultimately conceding to state Sen. Chuck Edwards after vote tallies made clear that the incumbent freshmen would not win reelection.