A STRING of scandals has surrounded Congressman Madison Cawthorn in the days leading up to the midterm elections, jeopardizing his hopes to remain in office.
Over the last several weeks, Cawthorn has been the topic of a nude video, claims of being invited to a cocaine-fueled Washington orgy by leaders he respected and two attempts to carry a gun onto an airplane.
The 26-year-old conservative leader also called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a "thug" in the midst of a Russian invasion.
The first-term lawmaker faces stiff competition during Tuesday's election, with seven candidates having mounted a campaign for Cawthorn's congressional seat.
However, the support of former President Donald Trump and a stacked field of rivals may sway Cawthorn's chances of being reelected.
The 26-year-old was seen as a rising star in the GOP after the political newcomer defeated a Trump-endorsed candidate in 2020.
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But, over the last several weeks, the North Carolina representative has faced sexual harassment allegations, several run-ins with law enforcement officials for carrying a loaded firearm in an airport, and an embarrassing leaked nude video.
On May 4, Cawthorn was forced to address a "crass" leaked nude video released by an opposition group campaigning against him.
The video, which surfaced on social media that same day, appears to show Cawthorn "acting foolish," as he described it in a tweet.
Footage obtained by DailyMail.com apparently showed the embattled lawmaker grabbing the crotch of close aide Stephen Smith, 23.
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He is now under investigation by the House Office of Congressional Ethics for an alleged improper relationship with Smith, according to the outlet.
“A new hit against me just dropped,” Cawthorn wrote in response to the leaked footage.
“Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking. That’s it. I'm NOT backing down.
"I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won’t win. We will.”
The US Sun has not been able to independently verify the video and has contacted Cawthorn's representative for comment on Wednesday.
On April 26, police issued him a citation after officials allegedly found him in possession of a loaded 9 mm handgun at a security checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officers got notification from TSA about the firearm, to which Cawthorn told them that the gun was his.
Police said that it is standard procedure for the CMPD Airport Division to cite someone for the misdemeanor in lieu of an arrest unless there are associated felony charges or extenuating circumstances.
That same day, the Washington Examiner published a piece citing experts who claimed Cawthorn may have violated federal insider trading laws.
The "multiple watchdog groups" told the outlet that the possible violations stem from him hyping the Let's Go Brandon cryptocurrency, which it called an alleged pump-and-dump scheme.
The US Sun's calls and emails to Cawthorn's press team about the gun citation and crypto scheme accusations were not immediately returned.
Prior to his run-in with TSA officials, Cawthorn was in the news on April 22 after Politico published photos of him wearing lingerie.
The 26-year-old appeared to shrug off the re-surfaced photos, which show him in a lacy top and bra, as "goofy vacation photos."
He said on Twitter that they were taken during a game on a cruise "way before" he ran for Congress.
He further made light of the situation by asking his followers to share their most embarrassing vacation pictures.
ORGY AND COCAINE CLAIMS
Cawthorn was slammed in late March over claims he made on a podcast about being invited to partake in orgies and cocaine use by his colleagues.
The congressman made the comments about “sexual perversion” in Washington in response to a question about whether the show House Of Cards contained some truth about the DC political scene.
Fellow Republican and Arkansas Rep Steve Womack argued that it was inappropriate for Cawthorn to paint lawmakers with such a broad brush.
Cawthorn fired back days later, saying "the left and the media" were using the words to disparage his Republican colleagues.
"The culture in Washington is corrupt," he wrote in a statement.
Cawthorn went on to say that he would not back down from "the mob."
Further controversy surrounded the lawmaker after a former aide filed a complaint, claiming she was improperly denied time off in two family medical emergencies, The New York Post reported.
SERIES OF TRAFFIC STOPS
Cawthorn was charged with driving with a revoked license in March in the latest of a series of traffic stops involving the legislator.
Video showed the most recent stop by a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer for a left-of-center violation, CNBC reported.
It was unclear why his license was reportedly revoked at the time. The news outlet reported that he was stopped by police last October for driving 89 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone.
A third traffic stop took place in Polk County in January after police said he was going 17 mph over the speed limit, according to CNBC.
All of this comes just months after he announced he would be separating from his wife of less than a year, Cristina Bayardelle.
The rising political star cited "irreconcilable differences" in a statement in December last year.
Announcing their split, Cawthorn said the pressures of his new job in politics had changed their lives "overnight."
It was then alleged earlier this month that close aide Smith had joined the couple on their honeymoon and that he had lived with them during their short marriage.
Cawthorn says Smith is his cousin.
He described his fiancée as an anesthesiologist assistant and a CrossFit athlete.
Bayardelle said that the couple met through a mutual friend and “hit it off,” and after four months, “knew he was the one.”
Cawthorn asked Bayardelle to marry him in 2019.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS
Cawthorn was plagued by sexual harassment allegations in March 2021, when several women told CNN that he put them in "uncomfortable situations" while he was a student at Patrick Henry College in Virginia.
The women claimed that he made unwanted advances toward them during what were supposed to be "fun drives" in the car, the outlet reported.
Cawthorn repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and his office pointed CNN to a September 2020 statement in which Cawthorn said: "I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life."
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He also denied claims from two women who alleged that Cawthorn "forcibly kissed or touched" them years ago.
He reportedly told CNN that he regretted his actions and apologized to anybody he "made feel uncomfortable."
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