Embattled GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s political fate is growing increasingly rocky after he alleged that lawmakers engage in orgies and use cocaine, with North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis coming out against his fellow Republican ahead of his May 17 primary.
Additionally, Cawthorn faces increasing chatter from House GOP colleagues about whether he should lose his committee assignments.
Cawthorn came under fire after alleging, during an appearance on the Warrior Poet Society podcast, that politicians invited him to an orgy and that he witnessed colleagues using cocaine. The accusations sparked fury within the House GOP conference, with members airing grievances that their offices were receiving inquiries about his claims. That led Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, in a Wednesday meeting, to grill the North Carolina Republican on his allegations and call for him to “straighten his life out.”
McCarthy said after the meeting that the 26-year-old lawmaker told them his claims on the podcast were exaggerated. Despite McCarthy’s call for Cawthorn to “make things right” and few of his GOP colleagues coming to his defense, the freshman lawmaker has not directly addressed the situation.
ORGIES AND COCAINE: CAWTHORN CLAIMS CONGRESS IS SIMILAR TO HOUSE OF CARDS
Seven Republicans have entered the primary race to oust Cawthorn, with two sources telling the Washington Examiner that state Sen. Chuck Edwards and businesswoman Michele Woodhouse could be viable contenders.
Still, Cawthorn only needs 30% of the primary vote to win renomination in the crowded field.
“Chuck Edwards has a lot of money. He's going to be a factor,” one GOP lawmaker told the Washington Examiner. “The question here is, in a scenario with a 30% threshold, can he get the nomination — I'm not sure what happens here. It's too early to tell.”
The fallout from the scandal — which comes on the heels of a series of other controversies, including Cawthorn referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “a thug” and facing legal troubles for driving with a suspended license — appears to have been the final straw for Tillis. The senator on Thursday released a statement backing Edwards for the GOP nomination.
“The 11th Congressional District deserves a congressman who is fully dedicated to serving their constituents. Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement,” Tillis said. “I believe Chuck Edwards is the best choice."
Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said he is not endorsing in the GOP primary, but Burr told reporters he believes Cawthorn has "been an embarrassment at times" to the party.
And McCarthy declined to comment when asked by the Washington Examiner if he will continue to support Cawthorn in his primary race.
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The firebrand conservative has proven himself to be a strong fundraiser, having taken in $2,860,009 between 2021 and 2022 through his leadership PAC and campaign committee. McCarthy spent the bulk of it, with $292,386 in cash on hand, according to the latest filings.
While Cawthorn has opted against publicly addressing the scandal, the congressman took to social media to assert he has no plans of dropping out of the race.
"The radical left, the establishment, and the media want to take me down. Their attacks have been relentless. I won't stop fighting. I won't bow to the mob. They want to silence the America First movement. I'm not going anywhere,” he tweeted.