WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations that Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn had a conflict of interest in a cryptocurrency he promoted and engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a member of its staff, the panel said Monday.
The inquiry is just the latest moment of high-level scrutiny for the North Carolina Republican, who will leave Congress at the end of the year after losing his primary race last week to Senator Chuck Edwards. Cawthorn’s loss came despite support for his re-election bid from former President Donald Trump.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from Texas, and Rep. Michael Guest, a Republican from Mississippi, will lead Cawthorn’s review. The panel warned that opening the investigation does not mean it violated House rules.
In a statement, the congressman’s chief of staff, Blake Harp, said they “welcome the opportunity to prove that Congressman Cawthorn did no wrongdoing and that he had been falsely accused by partisan adversaries for political purposes”.
The allegations of a potential conflict of interest stem from an April article in the Washington Examiner which reported that Cawthorn may have violated federal insider trading laws when he promoted the LGB meme coin, named after the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant mocking President Joe Biden.
Cawthorn promoted the LGB coin in a December 29 Instagram post where he was photographed with the cryptocurrency hedge fund manager. The next day, NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced a deal with the piece, raising questions about whether Cawthorn had advanced nonpublic knowledge of the announcement, according to the examiner.
The committee did not provide any further details about Cawthorn’s alleged “inappropriate relationship.”
The 26-year-old lawmaker’s political career was turned upside down by a series of salacious headlines that contributed to his downfall in last week’s primary. Since October, he has been stopped by the police three times, including two for speeding and once for driving with a revoked license. He has been caught with firearms at airport checkpoints twice in the past year, including three weeks ago. And in March, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine intensified, Cawthorn called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” even as many of his GOP colleagues pledged support for the Ukrainian government.
Shortly after, Cawthorn further infuriated his GOP colleagues when he alleged on a podcast that he had been invited to an orgy in Washington and witnessed leaders of the movement to end drug addiction using drugs. cocaine. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., publicly chastised him for his remarks.
During the final weeks of Cawthorn’s primary campaign, videos emerged that showed him in sexually suggestive poses, which he said were from several years ago and were meant to be funny.
Cawthorn acknowledged the speeding tickets and gun citations as failings, but dismissed the videos as part of a ‘drip campaign’ by his political enemies, some of whom he included Republicans of the establishment, to oust him from Congress.
“I am now on a mission to expose those who say and promise one thing while legislating and working towards another selfish, globalist goal,” Cawthorn said in a social media post after losing his primary last week. “It’s time for the rise of the new right, it’s time for Dark MAGA to really take command.”
Also on Monday, the ethics committee said it was investigating two other Republican lawmakers, both for improperly spending some congressional and campaign funds, among other issues.
The Congressional Ethics Office, the independent office that pursues potential wrongdoing by House members, said in a report that it found “substantial reasons to believe” Rep. Alex Mooney, RW.Va. , had wrongly accepted a free trip for him and his family to Aruba from a company that also provided services to his campaign and used his congressional staff to plan the vacation.
Ryan Kelly, a spokesman for Mooney, said in a statement that lawmakers plan to cooperate with the ethics inquiry but that the findings of his investigation were “tainted from the outset by procedural irregularities and denial of due process. of the ECO”.
The watchdog group also concluded that Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, used campaign funds to pay for “unlimited access” to a private social club in his state. In a response to the committee, Jackson’s attorney, Justin Clark, argued that his client made the purchases at the Amarillo Club for campaign-related reasons and therefore fell within federal guidelines for the personal use of campaign funds.