North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn, with less than two months in office, is making a name for himself as a Trump-style Republican with regular appearances on conservative news outlets like Fox News.
But for all that friendly attention from the pro-Trump wing of the GOP, Cawthorn also faces new scrutiny over accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct, and lying to voters about his resume.
In recent days, CNN, The Washington Post, and BuzzFeed News ran stories with claims that Cawthorn sexually harassed women when he was a student at Patrick Henry College.
The Post’s lengthy story also detailed what it called the congressman’s “falsehoods,” specifically about his claim about being accepted into the Naval Academy and the story of the crash that left him without the use of his legs.
The allegations of lying to voters and harassing women have followed Cawthorn since he began campaigning for the congressional seat in western North Carolina, left vacant last year when Mark Meadows resigned to become President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.
In the days since the latest stories came out detailing alleged harassment and false claims, Cawthorn has not directly addressed the allegations. He appeared on Fox News Tuesday, but was not asked about the BuzzFeed orThe Washington Post stories. Instead, Cawthorn criticized Democrats and “cancel culture” over a publisher’s decision to shelve some Dr. Seuss books because they have racist depictions of Black and Asian people.
Invited for an interview with Spectrum News 1, Cawthorn spokesman Micah Bock said the congressman would only agree to an interview if he wasn’t asked about the allegations.
In a statement, Bock said, “These questions were repeatedly asked and answered during the course of the campaign. The voters of Western North Carolina responded to these allegations by giving Madison Cawthorn a 12-point victory over his opponent.”
“Rep. Cawthorn is now busy doing the work he was elected to do including helping our economy recover from the pandemic, creating jobs and opportunity, making health care more affordable, protecting our natural environment and defending life and our Second Amendment rights,” Bock said in an emailed statement.
The spokesman also pointed to comments from Cawthorn during the campaign: "I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life,” he said on September 4.
“If I have a daughter, I want her to grow up in a world where people know to explicitly ask before touching her. If I had a son, I want him to be able to grow up in a world where he would not be called a sexual predator for trying to kiss someone,” Cawthorn said in September, according to the statement.
The recent stories focus on Cawthorn’s behavior as a student at Patrick Henry College, a Christian college about an hour outside Washington D.C.
"His MO was to take vulnerable women out on these rides with him in the car, and to make advances," Caitlin Coulter, a former classmate of the congressman, said in an interview on CNN.
The accusations from Cawthorn’s classmates are not new. A public letter, signed by more than 150 Patrick Henry College alumni, detailed the accusations about Cawthorn’s treatment of women and lying about his past.
“Cawthorn’s time at PHC was marked by gross misconduct toward our female peers, public misrepresentation of his past, disorderly conduct that was against the school’s honor code, and self-admitted academic failings,” the letter, dated October 16, said.
The recent news reports say women at the college advised others not to get in a car with Cawthorn.
The new story from The Post, published Sunday, looks at the false statements Cawthorn has made, including a claim that he was accepted to the Naval Academy before his car crash. Numerous outlets have found that Cawthorn’s application to the academy was rejected.
Cawthorn also claimed that his friend left him for dead, and that he was actually declared dead, in the 2014 car crash. Court records show that Cawthorn was incapacitated in that crash and that his friend who was driving at the time tried to pull Cawthorn from the car.
“That statement he made was false,” the friend, Bradley Ledford, told The Post. “It hurt very badly that he would say something as false as that. That is not all what happened. I pulled him out of the car the second that I was able to get out of the car.”