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Madison Cawthorn

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Madison Cawthorn
Official portrait, 2020
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Preceded byMark Meadows
Personal details
Born
David Madison Cawthorn

(1995-08-01) August 1, 1995 (age 25)
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
WebsiteHouse website
Campaign website

David Madison Cawthorn (born August 1, 1995) is an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, Cawthorn is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 11th congressional district after winning the 2020 election.[1] The district includes most of Western North Carolina. He is the youngest member of Congress since Jed Johnson Jr. and the first born in the 1990s.[2]

Early life and education

Cawthorn was born on August 1, 1995,[3] in Asheville, North Carolina, to Priscilla and Roger Cawthorn.[citation needed] He was home-schooled in Hendersonville, North Carolina.[4][5] As a teenager, he worked at a Chick-fil-A restaurant.[6]

U.S. Representative Mark Meadows nominated Cawthorn to the United States Naval Academy in 2014, but his application was rejected before his 2014 car accident (despite Cawthorn having previously claimed in his congressional campaign that his accident "derailed" his plans to attend the Academy).[6][7][8] Cawthorn subsequently said that of the time of the injury, he knew only that he had been nominated to the academy and that he had expected to be accepted, and added that he never said that he had been accepted to the academy before the accident took place, though he could have applied again later.[9][10] Cawthorn attended Patrick Henry College during the fall 2016 semester to study political science, but dropped out after one semester and earning mostly D grades. He said his grades were low primarily because his injuries had interfered with his ability to learn.[6]

Car accident and paralysis

In 2014, at age 18, Cawthorn was injured while returning from a spring break trip in Florida. He was a passenger in an SUV on Interstate 4 near Daytona Beach when his friend fell asleep at the wheel and the SUV crashed into a concrete barrier.[11][12] The injuries left Cawthorn partially paralyzed, and he now uses a wheelchair.[5] He accrued $3 million in medical debt during his recovery.[13] His friend's insurance company offered him $3 million to cover his medical treatment, but Cawthorn sued the company for $30 million. A judge later ruled in the insurer's favor. After the accident, Cawthorn was employed as a staff assistant in Meadows's district office.[6]

Early career

Cawthorn worked as a staffer in the district office of Congressman Mark Meadows from January 2015 until August 2016.[14]

Cawthorn is the owner of SPQR Holdings, LLC, a real estate investment firm in Hendersonville. The firm was created in August 2019 and reported no income; he is its sole employee.[6] The initialism SPQR "has been embraced by skinhead gangs in Italy and by some white nationalists in the United States"[15] and is common on flags used by white supremacists.[15][16] Cawthorn claims he used the initials for his company name merely because it is "a term for Rome" and that "SPQR is a warning to my generation from the ages against tyranny and authoritarianism."[15] The Anti-Defamation League does not include SPQR in its hate symbol database, and the organization's Mark Pitcavage said that it is used "just as much or more often by nonextremists than extremists".[17]

2020 congressional campaign

In the June 2020 Republican primary for North Carolina's 11th congressional district, Cawthorn defeated Lynda Bennett, who had been endorsed both by President Donald Trump and Cawthorn's former mentor,[18] Meadows, who had since become White House Chief of Staff.[19] Cawthorn gained the support of many local leaders and was endorsed by Mark Walker, the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.[18][20] His victory has been called an upset.[21][22]

Cawthorn is the youngest Republican and one of the youngest members ever elected to the House of Representatives.[21][23] He has said that he would "like to be the face of the Republican Party when it comes to health care."[13]

In 2017, Cawthorn posted an Instagram picture of his visit to Adolf Hitler's vacation residence Eagle's Nest, which he said had been on his "bucket list for awhile".[24][25][26] In the post, he called Hitler Führer, a German term of reverence meaning "leader", and the site "supreme evil".[24][27] During his 2020 campaign, the post generated criticism and allegations of far-right sympathies.[24][17] In response, Cawthorn denied being a white supremacist, calling that ridiculous, and said he "completely and wholeheartedly denounce[s] any kind of white nationalism, any kind of Nazism".[8][24][17] The Anti-Defamation League's analyst Mark Pitcavage said he did not see much merit in the accusations against Cawthorn.[24][17] Some Jewish residents of his congressional district expressed concern about the incident, including Esther Manheimer, mayor of Asheville, the district's largest city.[26] Cawthorne deleted the Instagram entry on August 10.[27]

Cawthorn spoke on the third day of the 2020 Republican National Convention.[28] During his election bid, Cawthorn's campaign created an attack website which criticized journalist Tom Fielder, who had produced investigative pieces on Cawthorn and had written favorably about his opponent. The website accused Fielder of leaving academia "to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office."[29][30] The sentence on the website was later modified to claim Fiedler is "an unapologetic defender of left-wing identity politics".[29] Cawthorn released a statement saying he had intended "to condemn" such political opinion as being "dangerous and divisive. I have condemned racism and identity politics throughout my campaign."[30] Ben Mathis-Lilley, writing for Slate, observed that Cawthorn's apology "convolutedly expressed regret for 'having unfairly implied I was criticizing Cory Booker,' which is notable in that it is not an apology for attacking the journalist in question, Tom Fiedler, as a traitor to his race."[31]

In the November general election, Cawthorn defeated Democratic nominee Moe Davis. He took office on January 3, 2021.[1][32] Upon hearing he had won, he tweeted, "cry more, lib".[33][34][35]

U.S. House of Representatives

Cawthorn took his seat as U.S. Representative at the start of the 117th Congress on January 3, 2021.[36]

In December 2020, at a Turning Point USA conference in Florida, Cawthorn said that he would try to contest the 2020 United States presidential election results when Congress counts the Electoral College votes in January, citing fraud; there was no evidence of fraud in the election.[37][38] Cawthorn subsequently used conspiracy theories about fraud to run advertisements and fundraise for himself.[39] He called on attendees to the TPUSA event to "lightly threaten" their representatives.[40]

Before Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, Cawthorn addressed the crowd and said, "this crowd has some fight."[41] He voted not to certify the Electoral College results in Congress[35] and called Republicans who voted to certify the results "spineless cowards."[35] After the riots, Cawthorn denounced the violence and said, "The party as a whole should have been much more wise about their choice of words."[42] Cawthorn later attempted to blame the riots on a "Democratic machine" of "agitators strategically placed inside of this group", amid intensifying calls for his resignation for his part in stoking the riots.[43]

On January 20, 2021, the day of the inauguration of Joe Biden, Cawthorn was one of seventeen newly-elected House Republicans to sign a letter congratulating Biden and expressing hope of working across the partisan divide.[44] On January 22, 2021, a government watchdog group Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint against Cawthorn with the Office of Congressional Ethics asking to investigate his role in the January 6 Capitol riot.[45][46]

Personal life

Cawthorn describes himself as a Christian and a constitutional conservative. He is engaged to Cristina Bayardelle, a college student and competitive CrossFit athlete.[47][48] He has an older brother, Zachary.[49]

Cawthorn trains in wheelchair racing. He has claimed to be training for the 2020 Summer Paralympics but has never competed at a qualifying level and is not involved in a team.[50][51]

Sexual misconduct allegations

In August 2020, during Cawthorn's campaign for Congress, several women came forward accusing him of sexually aggressive behavior, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault.[7][52][53][54] Katrina Krulikas described an incident when she was 17 and Cawthorn was 19 in which Cawthorn pressured her to sit on his lap and attempted to kiss her forcefully twice, which she resisted. Cawthorn did not deny the allegations, but said, "I did try and kiss her, just very normal, just in a flirtatious way", adding, "If I did make her feel unsafe, I feel bad", but questioned the timing of her allegation.[55] His campaign characterized Krulikas' allegations as politically motivated, which she denied.[54] After Krulikas made hers, three other women made allegations of sexual misconduct against Cawthorn, including forcible touching and kissing.[56]

On October 17, 2020, a group of alumni of the Patrick Henry College released a public letter accusing Cawthorn of “sexually predatory behavior” while a student there, as well as of vandalism and lying. The letter originally had 10 signatories but the number increased to over 150 alumni.[57][58] Cawthorn claimed that most of the signers did not know him personally and his campaign posted a letter of support for him signed by six alumni, two of whom work for Cawthorn's campaign. The letter implied support by former Patrick Henry College President Michael Farris; Farris disavowed the support letter and asked that he not be associated with it.[57]

References

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  2. ^ "Madison Cawthorn: America's Youngest Congressman Since 1965". BBC. November 5, 2020. Archived from the original on November 6, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "Cawthorn, Madison". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  4. ^ "Statement of Candidacy: David Madison Cawthorn" (PDF). Federal Election Commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Brown, Jon (May 15, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn: The fighter". Washington Examiner. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e Fielder, Tom (August 12, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn's claim about Naval Academy creates false impression". Asheville Citizen-Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Moon, Paul (August 20, 2020). "Women come forward to accuse Madison Cawthorn of aggressive sexual behavior". The Asheville Citizen Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Le, John (August 12, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn responds to report that he misled people about his past". ABC 13 News WLOS. Archived from the original on August 21, 2020. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  9. ^ Le, John (August 12, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn responds to report that he misled people about his past". ABC. Archived from the original on August 28, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 15, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "David Madison Cawthorn v. Auto-Owners Insurance Company". Justia Law. United States District Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. October 25, 2019. No. 18-12067 (11th Cir. 2019). Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  12. ^ "Cawthorn v. Auto-Owners Ins". Leagle. Case No. 6:16-cv-2240... | Leagle.com 20180509902. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Sprunt, Barbara (June 24, 2020). "24-Year-Old Easily Tops President Trump's Pick In N.C. Republican Primary". NPR. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  14. ^ Burgess, Joel. "Madison Cawthorn said he worked full-time for Mark Meadows; record says he didn't". The Asheville Citizen Times.
  15. ^ a b c Fiedler, Tom (August 11, 2020). "Cawthorn takes hard right turn, calls Asheville reparation plan 'racist'". Asheville Citizen-Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  16. ^ "Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on August 12, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d Robertson, Gary D. (August 12, 2020). "NC candidate defends posts; says he despises racism". Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Wong, Scott (June 24, 2020). "Pence confidant helps 24-year-old beat Trump-backed candidate". The Hill. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020.
  19. ^ Zanona, Melanie (June 25, 2020). "A Cawthorn in Trump's Side". Politico. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020.
  20. ^ Homan, Timothy R. (June 24, 2020). "Pence confidant helps 24-year-old beat Trump-backed candidate". The Hill. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  21. ^ a b Fandos, Nicholas (June 23, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn, 24, Upsets Trump-Endorsed Favorite in North Carolina". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  22. ^ Oprysko, Caitlin (June 24, 2020). "Trump congratulates 24-year-old who upset White House's chosen candidate in N.C. runoff". Politico. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  23. ^ LeBlanc, Paul (June 23, 2020). "Political newcomer beats Trump's pick in North Carolina GOP congressional primary". CNN. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  24. ^ a b c d e Serfaty, Sunlen; Foran, Clare (August 13, 2020). "GOP congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn on the defensive over social media post of visit to Hitler retreat". CNN. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  25. ^ Morris, Jim (August 11, 2020). "NC House candidate is under fire for posts some call sympathetic to white nationalists". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  26. ^ a b Sales, Ben (August 14, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn's visit to Hitler's vacation home alarms his NC district's Jews". The Times of Israel. Archived from the original on August 29, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Cramer, Philissa (August 12, 2020). "Rep. NC Congress candidate deletes pictures from his stay at Hitler's". The Jerusalem Post. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on August 13, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  28. ^ McCaskill, Nolan D. (August 23, 2020). "Trump campaign announces speakers for Republican convention". Politico. Archived from the original on August 23, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  29. ^ a b Firozi, Paulina (October 25, 2020). "Booker calls House GOP candidate Cawthorn racist over his website accusing senator of working to 'ruin white males'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 3, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Gabriel, Trip; Leslie, Laura (October 23, 2020). "Western NC GOP House candidate sounds racist dog whistle in attack on journalist". WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on October 24, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  31. ^ Mathis-Lilley, Ben (October 23, 2020). "Rising Star Republican Candidate Denounces Critic Over Past Support for "Non-White Males"". Slate. Archived from the original on October 24, 2020. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  32. ^ Singh, Namita (November 4, 2020). "Republican accused of being white supremacist and sexual misconduct becomes youngest member of Congress". The Independent. Archived from the original on November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  33. ^ Flores, Jessica (November 3, 2020). "Republican Madison Cawthorn reacts to becoming youngest member of Congress: 'Cry more, lib.'". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  34. ^ Montgomery, Blake (November 4, 2020). "25-Year-Old MAGA Candidate Tweets of N.C. House Seat Win: 'Cry More, Lib'". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on November 7, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  35. ^ a b c "Cawthorn spoke at rally before violent mob attacked Capitol. Now he's facing backlash". The Charlotte Observer. 2021.
  36. ^ Brito, Christopher (November 4, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn becomes first person born in the 1990s to be elected to Congress". CBS News. Archived from the original on November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  37. ^ Gordon, Brian (December 21, 2020). "Madison Cawthorn says he'll contest Biden's election victory in Congress next month". Asheville Citizen Times. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  38. ^ "Cawthorn says he will contest Biden's win". WLOS. December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  39. ^ Markay, Lachlan (December 30, 2020). "Ted Cruz's Georgia Runoff Fundraising Is Actually Going to His Campaign. He's Not Alone". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  40. ^ Edmondson, Catie; Broadwater, Luke (January 12, 2021). "Before Capitol Riot, Republican Lawmakers Fanned the Flames". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 12, 2021. At a Turning Point USA event in December, Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina encouraged attendees to “call your congressman and feel free — you can lightly threaten them.”

    “Say: ‘If you don’t support election integrity, I’m coming after you. Madison Cawthorn’s coming after you. Everybody’s coming after you,’” Mr. Cawthorn said.
  41. ^ Pellicer, Lauren (January 6, 2021). "NC Congressional Delegates React To Violence As Pro-Trump Mob Storms US Capitol". Blue Ridge Public Radio.
  42. ^ "Cawthorn expresses concern about election fraud claims after earlier stoking them". POLITICO. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  43. ^ Lewis, Peter (January 19, 2021). [agitators strategically placed inside of this group "Cawthorn blamed 'Democratic machine' for riots, calls intensify for congressman to resign"] Check |url= value (help). Asheville Citizen Times. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  44. ^ "17 House GOP Freshmen Write To Biden About Working Together". NPR.org. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  45. ^ Jordan Williams (January 22, 2020). "Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot". The Hill. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  46. ^ Kane, Dan (January 22, 2021). "https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article248677265.html". The News and Observer. External link in |title= (help)
  47. ^ Stimson, Brie (June 24, 2020). "Who is Madison Cawthorn?". Fox News. Archived from the original on June 26, 2020. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  48. ^ Farrell, Paul (June 24, 2020). "Cristina Bayardelle: GOP Rising Star Madison Cawthorn Is Engaged to CrossFit Star". Heavy. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  49. ^ Nichloas, Angela (October 11, 2018). "Home of the Week: Accessible but charming Flat Rock cottage". Citizen Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  50. ^ Luterman, Sara (January 22, 2021). "The Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn". ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  51. ^ "How much did Rep. Madison Cawthorn exaggerate his Paralympic quest in 'absurd' social media claims?". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  52. ^ Prude, Harvest (August 16, 2020). "Rising Republican star faces accusations from women - WORLD". world.wng.org. Archived from the original on August 25, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  53. ^ Genovese, Daniella (August 26, 2020). "RNC speakers: What to know about Madison Cawthorn". Fox News. Archived from the original on August 27, 2020. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  54. ^ a b Moon, Paul (November 3, 2020). "Women come forward to accuse Madison Cawthorn of aggressive sexual behavior". Asheville Citizen Times. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  55. ^ Vaillancourt, Cory (August 16, 2020). "Cawthorn responds to sexual assault allegations". Smoky Mountain News. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  56. ^ Prude, Harvest (September 12, 2020). "Rising Republican star faces accusations from women". World Magazine. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  57. ^ a b Fieldlet, Tom; Watchdog, Avl (October 23, 2020). "#NC11: Attack By Madison Cawthorn's Schoolmates Goes Viral". Blue Ridge Public Radio. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  58. ^ Wang, Esther (October 21, 2020). "Former Classmates of Republican Star Madison Cawthorn Detail a Pattern of 'Predatory Behavior' Towards Women". Jezebel. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mark Meadows
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 11th congressional district

2021–present
Incumbent
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Baby of the House
2021–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jerry Carl
United States Representatives by seniority
385th
Succeeded by
Andrew Clyde