Posted by on August 5, 2022 5:37 pm
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‘One heck of a birthday weekend!’: Madison Cawthorn parties despite FEC threat

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks to the crowd before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Selma, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward) Chris Seward/AP

‘One heck of a birthday weekend!’: Madison Cawthorn parties despite FEC threat

Andrew Kerr August 05, 05:16 PMAugust 05, 05:16 PM Video Embed

Outgoing Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) may have the threat of legal action from the Federal Election Commission hanging over him, but that wasn’t going to get in the way of the birthday boy having a good time.

“One heck of a birthday weekend!” Cawthorn, who turned 27 on Monday, wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday that contained photos and videos of his multistate festivities. “Best friends and the best family. Washington, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida all ensured a very eventful and fun birthday. Back to work now.”

Cawthorn’s campaign reportedly burned through all of its restricted general election funds in a mad-dash spending spree in the lead-up to his May 17 primary defeat and now has no money left over to return to his donors as required by law. The embattled freshman lawmaker was due to disclose his campaign’s finances to the FEC on July 15, but he has yet to do so as of Friday afternoon.

MADISON CAWTHORN ILLEGALLY SPENT CAMPAIGN FUNDS, CAN’T AFFORD TO REPAY SUPPORTERS: REPORT

“The failure to timely file a complete report may result in civil money penalties, an audit or legal enforcement action,” the FEC warned Cawthorn and his campaign in a letter sent on his birthday.

Cawthorn and two of his friends can be seen in one of the birthday videos uploaded to Instagram entering what appears to be a mock one-bedroom apartment set up in an indoor shooting range. The lawmakers and his friends were kitted out in tactical gear and wielding high-powered firearms as they breached the empty room.

“Clear!” someone in Cawthorn’s tactical squad shouted a few seconds after they secured a vacant bedroom in the mock apartment. Cawthorn can be seen staring intently and pointing his pistol toward a mannequin’s torso that lay on a mattress in the room, presumably examining it for signs of life.

In another video, Cawthorn and one of his comrades hastily retreat from the mock apartment as if they are being overrun by an unseen force.

“Out, out, out, go, go, go!” Cawthorn’s friend shouted as the lawmaker pointed his handgun into every room they passed amid their retreat.

Cawthorn also uploaded a photo showing him opening up a wooden crate containing what appears to be golden confetti.

In another video, Cawthorn films himself driving a ski jet down a river.

Cawthorn also uploaded footage of himself clinking glasses with an unknown woman holding a smoking martini in a fancy restaurant.

Cawthorn embarked on his multistate birthday bash after the Daily Beast reported in July that his campaign spent $1,500 on trips to Chick-fil-A, dropped almost $3,000 at a restaurant called Papa’s Beer, booked $21,000 worth of hotels in Florida, funded multiple trips to a high-end cigar shop, and doled out lucrative consulting fees to his personal friend and campaign manager Blake Harp in the weeks leading up to his primary loss to state Sen. Chuck Edwards.

Cawthorn and Harp have not returned requests for comment.

The Cawthorn campaign had only $138,000 cash on hand and debts totaling $325,000 as of April 27 after having raised over $3.5 million since the beginning of 2021, according to its most recently filed FEC report.

Cawthorn’s campaign is required by law to reimburse a combined $220,000 to large-dollar donors who had contributed to his general election fund before his May 17 primary loss. It’s unclear where Cawthorn’s campaign will find the money to reimburse his donors.

Cawthorn promoted himself to his campaign’s treasurer and custodian of records on July 15, a move that Kendra Arnold, the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, explained to the Washington Examiner could expose the outgoing lawmaker to personal liability if the FEC follows through on its threat to impose fines for his failure to report his campaign’s finances.

Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Washington Examiner that Cawthorn’s campaign will be placed in the FEC’s administrative fine program and will face civil penalties for each unfiled or late report until his campaign is shut down.

“Anything short of a natural disaster preventing you from filing means you have to pay the fine,” Libowitz said. “Failed primary candidates who don’t return general election funds regularly get referred to the FEC’s Enforcement Division, which has generally been successful in obtaining civil penalties because the violation is clear.”

Libowitz added that the FEC can refer matters to the Department of Justice for criminal violations, but he cautioned that the agency rarely takes that step.

“The kind of thing that ends up with criminal prosecution tends to be the misuse of campaign funds type cases,” Libowitz said.

The Washington Examiner reported before Cawthorn’s primary loss that the lawmaker had engaged in what multiple experts called an apparent insider trading scheme related to the “Let’s Go Brandon” meme cryptocurrency.

The Washington Examiner’s reporting prompted the House Ethics Committee to vote unanimously in late May to launch an investigation into Cawthorn’s connection to the alleged cryptocurrency scam.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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