Saddled by Scandal, Madison Cawthorn Takes to Instagram to Blast 'Ridiculous, Salacious Lies'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday April 28, 2022
Originally published on April 28, 2022

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, embroiled in scandal for everything from insider trading allegations to photos showing him wearing women's lingerie in apparent contradiction to his professed adherence to "Judeo-Christian values" — not to mention two known attempts to take handguns onto commercial aircraft in his carryon bag — has taken to Instagram with a video that accuses "RINO" Republicans and "liberals" of trying to derail his re-election bid with a "drip campaign" of bad press.

"There is a coordinated movement to attack the freshman conservative congressman in their re-elections (most difficult election) who challenge the regime and the Uni-party," Cawthorn claimed in text accompanying the post.

"Rino senators and establishment pawns want us to go back to the days before Trump," the first-term congressman went on to claim. "They want to go back to the days of not being on offense, not fighting for the next generation, not trying to dismantle the federal government's overreach, we will never go back. That is why the establishment is trying to crush me and others, they attack what they fear."

Cawthorn expounded on this thesis in the two-and-a-half-minute video, during which his comments became increasingly disjointed.

Cawthorn began by explaining that "statistically, it's virtually impossible to beat an incumbent member of Congress after they've won their first re-election," suggesting that for this reason, "establishment" politicians, including "one RINO senator" were trying to dislodge him from power.

UK newspaper the Daily Mail, reporting on the video, noted that the "RINO" — "Republican in Name Only," a smear that hard-right politicians hurl at more moderate members of the GOP — was "likely Tom Tillis," a fellow North Carolina politician and U.S. senator who has called for an investigation into Cawthorn's alleged "insider trading" and "his relationship to an anti-Biden cryptocurrency," as reported by NBC News.

From there, the 26-year-old pol rushed on to make an array of other claims, including that "ridiculous, salacious lies" were being spread about him, including that he wants to raise taxes — "which is absurd; I want to remove the federal income tax" — and that he wants to slash Social Security — "when that is the exact opposite of what I want to do."

Cawthorn did not elaborate on how he would suggest maintaining or expanding Social Security if the federal income tax is abolished, but as the video continued, the politician began referring to himself with the royal "We" ("We serve our district very hard").

Pivoting to his views on cultural issues, Cawthorn claimed that he had been counseled to "be really quiet" about such issues. "These are people who obviously don't understand what's going on, and the party that just wants to be left alone will always lose to the party that's going to go for the throat and fight as hard as they can."

Even as his diatribe became less coherent, Cawthorn packed in a wealth of hard-right talking points, saying he sought to "cultivate a following across all platforms" in order to "reach out to my generation, who are the most medicated, addicted, the most depressed, the most suicidal generation that's ever lived, and it's because of these radical liberal policies and the indoctrination that goes on inside of our schools."

The insider trading scandal was only one of a pair of recent flaps. Cawthorn's "rant was delivered after Transportation Security Administration workers on Tuesday morning said they found a loaded Staccato 9mm handgun in Cawthorn's bag during security screening at Charlotte Douglas International Airport," the New York Post noted — the second time Cawthorn had attempted to take a weapon onto a commercial flight, after "he tried to board an airplane in Asheville with a 9mm and loaded magazine on his carry-on luggage" in February of 2021.

Though Cawthorn refrained from offering specifics, the latest allegations are only the latest twist in his scandal-riddled political career, which has also generated headlines around his having spoken at the Trump rally directly preceding the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol Building by Trump supporters who carried out acts of property damage and injured more than a hundred law enforcement officers.

His participation in the so-called "Stop the Steal" rally led to a challenge to his ability to continue serving in Congress, based on a post-Civil War law that bans individuals who have supported insurrection from holding office. A federal judge rejected that challenge last month.

More recently, Cawthorn called Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky a "thug" and said that the Ukrainian government "is incredibly evil and it has been pushing woke ideologies," even as Russian forces invaded the democratic nation.

The congressman has also trolled LGTBQ+ Americans, declaring earlier this month that the definition of a woman is "XX chromosomes, no tallywacker."

Cawthorn's best-known scandal may be the claims he made on the "Warrior Poet Society" podcast on March 27. As Forbes recounts, Cawthorn asserted "that D.C. political figures invited him to a 'sexual get-together,' and he witnessed drug control advocates doing 'key bumps' of cocaine in front of him.

"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) later said Cawthorn admitted he made up or exaggerated the allegations," Forbes added, before relating that McCarthy had counseled Cawthorn to "turn himself around."

Another fellow Republican, South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice, was blunter: He "told CNN he thinks Cawthorn is 'living in a dream land' and is not 'a serious legislator,' " Forbes detailed.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.