U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina speaks on the Conservative Political Motion Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 26, 2021.
Octavio Jones | Reuters
Embattled Rep. Madison Cawthorn vowed that “blackmail won’t win” after an opposition group released a video appearing to point out the North Carolina Republican naked in a bed and making thrusting motions on top of one other person.
“Years ago, on this video, I used to be being crass with a friend, attempting to be funny,” Cawthorn, 26, said on Twitter on Wednesday night, shortly after the video began circulating on social media.
“We were acting silly, and joking. That is it,” Cawthorn said.
The video, details of which haven’t been independently verified by CNBC, was released lower than two weeks before the Republican primary election in Cawthorn’s district. The youngest member of Congress, Cawthorn has racked up an inventory of scandals and controversies in his freshman term which have prompted scolding and outright opposition from a few of his fellow Republicans.
“I’m NOT backing down,” Cawthorn’s tweet said. “I told you there can be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won’t win. We are going to.”
The video was released by American Muckrakers, a political motion committee that operates under the banner Fire Madison Cawthorn and is bent on damaging his candidacy.
The group said the video was provided by “a former Cawthorn supporter and large donor who asked to stay anonymous.”
“It pains us to post it but in the general public and voters interest we selected to achieve this,” the group said, just above an all-caps link urging viewers to “WATCH THE VIDEO OF REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN MADISON CAWTHORN DRY HUMPING SOMEONE’S HEAD AND MOANING LOUDLY HERE.”
Republicans are hoping to regain House and possibly the Senate within the upcoming midterm elections, and incumbents are inclined to hold major benefits over their electoral challengers. But Cawthorn’s distractions have spurred criticism from inside his own party — especially after he claimed in a March podcast interview to have knowledge of lawmakers doing drugs and inviting him to orgies.
“He’s got a whole lot of members very upset,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the time.
Last week, Cawthorn was cited on a misdemeanor criminal charge after he brought a loaded handgun to a North Carolina airport. It marked the second time Cawthorn was caught bringing a gun to an airport.
Cawthorn said he “made a mistake” by leaving the weapon in his carry-on bag, but the newest incident prompted House Democrats to call on the Transportation Security Administration to crack down on similar offenses.
That very same week, Sen. Thom Tillis, a fellow member of North Carolina’s Republican delegation, called for an investigation after ethics watchdogs raised suspicions of possible insider trading related to Cawthorn’s involvement with a cryptocurrency.
Tillis has endorsed Cawthorn’s primary challenger, and a Tillis-tied super PAC reportedly spent greater than $300,000 on ads that attacked Cawthorn.
He had also come under fire after the Asheville Citizen Times reported in March that Cawthorn was charged with driving with a revoked license for the second time.
Cawthorn also lashed out Politico last month after the outlet published photos of him posing in lingerie at a celebration. Cawthorn said the photos were taken on during a game on a cruise prior to his election to Congress.