Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) called allegations that he engaged in an insider trading scheme involving a meme coin mocking President Joe Biden "ridiculous" in a video statement Wednesday afternoon.
The leader of the "Let's Go Brandon" coin, James Koutoulas, revealed in an Instagram post on Friday that Cawthorn traded the cryptocurrency three weeks before NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced the coin would sponsor his 2022 season, causing its value to skyrocket by 75%. On Dec. 29, one day before Brown's announcement, Cawthorn posted on Instagram in response to a picture of him posing with Koutoulas at a party: "LGB legends ... Tomorrow we go to the moon!"
The Washington Examiner has been unable to find any reference from Brown, Koutoulas, or LGBCoin publicly discussing the sponsorship deal before the Dec. 30 announcement.
MEME COIN LEADER'S ADMISSION COULD LAND MADISON CAWTHORN IN MORE HOT WATER
However, Cawthorn claimed in his statement Wednesday the deal was public knowledge before Brown's Dec. 30 announcement.
"The facts simply don't matter to the Left. A quick search would have revealed that the information that I had insider knowledge of was publicly available on Instagram," Cawthorn said. "Now, make no mistake, I believe in decentralized cryptocurrency as a way to remove centralized government control of our finances. Even a quick glance at the story reveals how shallow their claims really are."
I’m ready to keep fighting for you.— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) May 4, 2022
I wanted you to know the truth, straight from me. Don’t lose hope, don’t listen to the fake news.
Don’t let the swamp of Washington dissuade or distract you from sending a warrior back to Washington.
I’ve only just begun to fight for you. pic.twitter.com/kDqtzsoquT
Cawthorn's office did not return a request for comment asking for links to statements or social media posts showing that LGBCoin's sponsorship of Brown's 2022 season was public knowledge before the Dec. 30 announcement.
Koutoulas gave a similar statement to the Washington Examiner on Tuesday, saying the "Brandon team sponsorship was *public knowledge* an entire month prior to Cawthorn's purchase."
When asked for links to Brown's public statements promoting the sponsorship deal before the Dec. 30 announcement, Koutoulas forwarded the Washington Examiner one Instagram picture dated Nov. 6 showing him wearing a shirt with the LGBCoin logo as he posed with the NASCAR driver on a race track.
The Instagram post made no mention or suggestion of a formal business or sponsorship deal between LGBCoin and Brandon Brown.
"So cool to hang out with @brandonbrown_68 before tonight’s race! #letsgobrandon," the post stated.
Brown himself made no mention of the sponsorship during interviews in mid-December with the New York Times and Sports Business Journal.
Business Journal noted in its Dec. 23 story on Brown and the rise of the "Let's Go Brandon" chant that the NASCAR driver "was not prepared to reveal his '22 sponsors yet."
And Brown didn't mention LGBCoin or his pending sponsorship deal with the coin in a lengthy Twitter thread on Dec. 18 in which he gave a shout-out to many of his sponsors.
Experts from government watchdog groups previously told the Washington Examiner that Cawthorn's reported purchase of LGBCoin three weeks before the pivotal Dec. 30 announcement strengthened their suspicion that Cawthorn may have traded the coin with nonpublic knowledge of the pending deal.
"The new information that Madison Cawthorn did indeed buy up LGBCoin prior to the public announcement of the NASCAR endorsement adds greater evidence to the suspicions of Cawthorn violating the insider trading laws," said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. "If Cawthorn knew of the nonpublic material information that would radically boost the value of the cryptocurrency, and purchased LGBCoin with that knowledge, this would likely constitute insider trading."
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Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Washington Examiner that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission considers virtual currencies to be commodities, which have been subjected to insider trading laws since the passage of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
"You can absolutely be prosecuted for insider trading with commodities," Libowitz said.