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House Ethics probes Madison Cawthorn over cryptocurrency, relationship

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Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., arrives for the House Republican leadership elections on the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The House Ethics Committee is investigating controversial Rep. Madison Cawthorn for his possibly improper promotion of a cryptocurrency by which he could have had an undisclosed financial interest, the panel revealed Monday.

The committee can also be investigating the North Carolina Republican over questions on whether he had an “improper relationship” with an individual employed on his congressional staff, the panel said.

The Ethics Committee authorized the probe by a unanimous vote on May 11. However the panel only disclosed it six days after the 26-year-old congressman narrowly lost a GOP primary, denying him a nomination for a second term.

The loss followed an embarrassing series of events for Cawthorn. He was charged by police in North Carolina with carrying a loaded handgun at an airport and with driving with a revoked license. He also claimed he was a victim of “blackmail” following the discharge of a video that appeared to point out him naked in bed with one other man.

Cawthorn also infuriated fellow Republicans in Congress earlier this yr by claiming a few of his older colleagues had invited him to orgies and used cocaine in front of him.

“We welcome the chance to prove that Congressman Cawthorn committed no wrongdoing and that he was falsely accused by partisan adversaries for political gain,” said Cawthorn’s chief of staff, Blake Harp, in response to the Ethics probe.

Harp said that the inquiry, which will likely be conducted by an investigative subcommittee assembled for that purpose, “is a formality.”

“Our office is not deterred within the slightest from completing the job the patriots of Western North Carolina sent us to Washington to perform,” Harp added.

Cawthorn later tweeted: “Wow – I need to still be an issue for the swamp! They’re still coming after me!”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in late April called for the Ethics Committee to research Cawthorn for possible insider trading related to cryptocurrency. The Washington Examiner reported that Cawthorn could have broken laws barring investors from profiting on nonpublic information.

The cryptocurrency at issue is the Let’s Go Brandon coin named for a derogatory phrase toward President Joe Biden.

In a Dec. 29 reply to an Instagram post featuring a photograph of him with the co-founders of the coin, Cawthorn wrote, “Tomorrow we go to the moon.”

The following day, the team for NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced that the Let’s Go Brandon coin had been signed because the team’s primary partner for the 2022 season. After the announcement, the value of the cryptocurrency rose by greater than 75%.

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Soon afterward, the Let’s Go Brandon coin collapsed in price when NASCAR rejected its sponsorship cope with Brown.

Around the identical time that Tillis urged a probe of Cawthorn, the president of a political motion committee filed an ethics criticism against him for allegedly failing to file financial disclosures of gifts and loans made to his scheduler, Stephen Smith.

David Wheeler, president of the American Muckrakers PAC, also said within the criticism that, “Mr. Smith apparently lives with Rep. Cawthorn and various social media postings by them indicate a private relationship between them, separate and aside from the skilled relationship of employer and worker.”

Cawthorn’s spokesperson has said that Smith is Cawthorn’s cousin.

The House Ethics Committee individually said Monday that on May 11 it voted against empaneling an investigative subcommittee to probe Cawthorn over misdemeanor charges for driving with a revoked license and speeding in North Carolina.

“Representative Cawthorn informed the Committee he has paid a fantastic to resolve certainly one of the fees and intends to pay any fines related to the remaining charges,” the committee said in a report.

“The Committee believes that the handling of this matter by local authorities is sufficient given the facts of the matter,” it added.

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