A House Ethics Committee subpanel is investigating Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn to determine whether he engaged in an improper relationship with a staff member and whether he improperly promoted a cryptocurrency in which he may have had an undisclosed financial interest.
The Democratic-led House Ethics Committee announced Monday that a unanimously established investigative subcommittee, led by Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, will investigate the North Carolina Republican’s relationship with the staff member and the cryptocurrency matter. Congress’ youngest member at 26, the Trump-backed Cawthorn lost his primary race earlier this month.
The investigation comes after a political action group opposing Cawthorn, American Muckrakers, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging multiple violations by Cawthorn and one of his House aides, claiming the congressman had provided the aide with free housing, travel and loans. The group cited social media posts suggesting a personal relationship between Cawthorn and the aide, Stephen Smith. Some in Cawthorn’s own party have pushed for an investigation as well. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina backed a Cawthorn challenger and and pushed for an ethics probe into Cawthorn, citing potential insider trading.
Cawthorn has declared the allegations a “coordinated assault,” and insisted in an ad that he won’t back down.
On Monday evening, Blake Harp, Cawthorn’s chief of staff said in statement, “We welcome the opportunity to prove that Congressman Cawthorn committed no wrongdoing and that he was falsely accused by partisan adversaries for political gain.”
“I’ve never folded in Washington and the swamp hates me,” he said in a video released last month, before the primary. “They want someone who will make backroom deals and sell out our values, and someone who will abandon ‘America first’ principles.”
Cawthorn drew attention earlier this year for claiming his colleagues invited him to an orgy, sparking criticism from some GOP colleagues. Cawthorn was also stopped with a loaded gun at an airport earlier this month in Charlotte, after authorities caught him trying to bring a handgun onto an airplane in Ashville early last year.
It isn’t clear how long the House Ethics panel’s work will take. The subcommittee also said Monday it will not investigate the congressman for driving with a revoked license and speeding in North Carolina.
Republican Rep. Michelle Fischbach and Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester will also work on the investigative subcommittee.
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