Group calls for ethics inquiry into Madison Cawthorn

A political action group is calling for an ethics investigation into North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, citing her tendency to bring guns into off-limits spaces and a possible improper financial relationship with a staff member.

It’s the latest row to erupt for the freshman lawmaker, once a rising GOP star, who has found himself at odds with his colleagues and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The group, American Muckrakers PAC, wrote to the Congressional Ethics Office on Wednesday demanding an investigation after Cawthorn was cited — but not charged — for attempt to bring a loaded gun through security at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. The PAC also cited four occasions when it brought a dagger to North Carolina public educational property and said Cawthorn provided more than $250 in free housing and travel to its aide, Stephen Smith, in violation of the rules. from the room.

The Congressional Ethics Office is an independent, nonpartisan entity established by the House to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing by members of Congress and their staff. It can refer its investigations to the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, conduct its own investigations, and issue fines as punishment for violations. OCE did not respond to a request for comment, but Muckrakers PAC posted a screenshot of an email from the office confirming that it had received the investigation request.

Cawthorn accused “RINOS” – a derisive acronym meaning “Republican in name only” – of working to try to defeat him.

“I never folded in Washington and the swamp hates me,” he said in a video released on Friday. “They want someone who will do business behind the scenes and sell our values, and someone who will abandon America’s first principles.”

Besides the weapons, the Muckrakers PAC complaint centers on Cawthorn’s relationship with Smith, a young staff member. They provide documents that appear to show Smith living in a home owned by Cawthorn without any reimbursement. They also suggest the two may have an inappropriate personal relationship – which is prohibited between a lawmaker and a member of their staff – citing, among other things, the fact that Smith accompanied Cawthorn on his honeymoon in Dubai in April 2021 and a video that pops up to show Smith placing his hand on Cawthorn’s crotch.

American Muckrakers is also asking the OCE to investigate whether Cawthorn violated an insider trading ban with a recent cryptocurrency purchase, which was investigated by the Washington Examiner this week.

Cawthorn’s office did not issue a statement in response to the allegations, but instead told CBS News of the congressman’s recent tweets. a tweet posted Thursday evening after Cawthorn and Smith’s complaint and video were reported by the Daily Mail, “Many of my colleagues would be far from politics if they had grown up with a cellphone in their hands.”

The North Carolina congressman’s behavior drew criticism from fellow Republicans in the House. McCarthy, who rarely berates his members in public, told a recent press conference that Cawthorn was “wrong” to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”

And less than two weeks later, McCarthy said the young lawmaker had “lost my trustafter Cawthorn made unsubstantiated claims on a podcast that congressional colleagues had used drugs and invited him to an orgy, a remark that drew complaints from several Republicans. The Minority Leader said that Cawthorn admitted that some of his claims were exaggerated.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the latest allegations against Cawthorn.

During her press conference today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was up to Republicans to punish Cawthorn for any misconduct.

“We have a responsibility to have an ethical standard here,” she told reporters. “They have to take care of their own house. Otherwise, there will be ethical complaints. But I will not spend my time with them at this meeting.”

Nikole Killion contributed to this story.

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