Madison Cawthorn, outgoing U.S. Representative from North Carolina, was told to pay more than $14,000 to charities after the House Ethics Committee found that she had financially benefited and violated conflict of interest rules when purchasing a cryptocurrency she promoted.
The investigation looked at the Republicans’ one-term purchase of LGB Coins, named after the “Let’s Brandon” slogan mocking Democratic President Joe Biden.
According to the committee report and the warning issued Tuesday, the committee found that Cawthorn, who lost his re-election bid in May’s primary, “acted in a way that was not convincingly reflected in Parliament” based on the aggregate behavior of Cawthorn. According to the report, this behavior included “repeatedly and knowingly promoting a cryptocurrency in which it has a financial interest.”
“While cryptocurrency promotion, particularly a ‘tit coin’ may be a new topic before the committee, whether a member can promote an asset with a financial interest is not a new question,” the report said. Cawthorn was also told to pay $1,000 in late fees on reports filed for cryptocurrency transactions.
The committee also accepted other findings and recommendations from a research subcommittee led by committee chair Representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, senior member Representative Michael Guest, R-Miss. – With no evidence of Cawthorn having an improper relationship with a staff member.
Committee leaders announced they’re launching an investigation into the matters against Cawthorn a week after his first defeat against state Senator Chuck Edwards, who won the general election for the western North Carolina seat last month. A strong supporter of President Donald Trump, Cawthorn was seen as a rising star by many conservatives when, at the age of 25, he won the seat vacated by Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Term of office, being stopped by the police while driving; getting caught with weapons at airport checkpoints; calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “bandit”; and the release of videos showing him in obscene poses.
Cawthorn spokesman Micah Bock said in an emailed statement that “pleased to note that the committee has fully exonerated false, malicious and extremely stupid allegations of having an improper relationship with members of staff.” Bock said he plans to donate to Cawthorn’s gun rights group and a spinal cord and stroke treatment center.
The subcommittee’s report revealed that in December 2021, Cawthorn issued a $150,000 check for 180 billion LGB Coins.
However, according to the report, which was described as an inappropriate gift, the actual value of the LGB Coin amount at the time he received it was more than what he paid for. This led the committee to direct Cawthorn to give $14,237.49 to charities.
The transaction came just before LGB Coin announced it would sponsor NASCAR driver Brandon Brown in 2022, but NASCAR soon withdrew its approval in early January. The committee said Cawthorn sold nearly all of the “meme” coin in three lots in December 2021 and January 2022, but the congressman did not disclose the purchase or sale until the investigative subcommittee was announced.
Cawthorn was also featured in photos and videos encouraging people to buy LGB Coins. The subcommittee said there was no consensus on whether Cawthorn personally intended to profit from these promotions. Although the subcommittee found that he had violated the code of ethics by failing to disclose his investment in a timely manner, it decided that the failure was not intentional or willful, declaring that it was misinformed about the relatively new requirements regarding cryptocurrency.
As for the investigation into Cawthorn’s relationship with a staff member, the staff member told investigators that he was Cawthorn’s second cousin. House rules or the law regarding nepotism apply to first cousins, the report said. The staff was hired as Cawthorn’s planner and helped him with his disability. Cawthorn uses a wheelchair after being partially paralyzed from a car accident as a teenager.
The investigation came after photos and videos were released in the spring showing Cawthorn and the employee “making explicit and obscene comments and behavior.” At the time, Cawthorn described one video as “just a dumb locker room conversation between two cousins who grew up like brothers, shot long before I served in Congress.”