Inside the Twisted World Of Madison Cawthorn

By Terrance Turner

April 22, 2022 (updated April 26)

North Carolina House Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is in the news (again) after some incriminating photos of him emerged.

Cawthorn, 26 (the youngest elected member of Congress), fashions himself as a traditional, God-fearing man. “I was raised on Proverbs and pushups,” Cawthorn said in a podcast in September 2020. “There’s only one God and two genders,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

“I think that we have bred a generation of soft men and that generation has created a lot of problems in our society and our culture,” he said in March 2021. Those comments were made on the Order of Man podcast, “designed to reclaim and restore masculinity in a society that is ever more dismissive of what it means to be a man.”

But the congressman’s statements are undercut by today’s discovery. Photographs obtained by POLITICO appear to show Cawthorn in women’s lingerie, in what looks like a party setting. Surrounded by women, Cawthorn is clad in a sheer white blouse, a black lace bra and a matching scarf.

Courtesy of Politico.

According to POLITICO, the pictures were provided by a person “formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign.” A second person formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign confirmed the origin of the photos. The date the photos were taken is unclear.

Cawthorn responded to the photos on Friday in a tweet. “I guess the left thinks goofy vacation photos during a game on a cruise, taken waaay before I ran for Congress, is going to somehow hurt me? They’re running out of things to throw at me,” he tweeted today. But the case against Cawthorn already includes a fairly long list of charges.


Newly released dashcam footage from the North Carolina Highway Patrol shows Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) surrendering his driver’s license after being pulled over last month, The Charlotte Observer reported. Cawthorn, whose license was revoked at the time, was charged with a misdemeanor for unlicensed driving. It’s a Class C misdemeanor which could carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 days in jail, per CNN.

Cawthorn is set to appear in court on May 6. The Observer says that this is the second time that Cawthorn has been pulled over for driving with an invalid license. (Court records show that a previous charge against Cawthorn of driving with his license revoked in 2017 was dismissed in Buncombe County, per CNN.) But it’s at least the fourth total driving-related offense that Cawthorn has faced. The Charlotte Observer reports:

“An Oct. 18, 2021, incident occurred in Buncombe County, when a trooper charged Cawthorn with speeding while he was driving in a white 2009 Dodge passenger vehicle on Interstate 40 near mile marker 59. Knox said Cawthorn traveled 89 mph in a 65 mph zone. The case was disposed March 4, and Cawthorn pleaded guilty to improper equipment and paid a fine of $25. On Jan. 8, Cawthorn was pulled over in the same vehicle after a trooper said he was traveling 87 mph in a 70 mph zone on U.S. 74 in Polk County. The court date is June 2.”

And his car has been the site of other misdeeds, too. A bombshell report in Buzzfeed News last year pulled back the curtain on what women say has been a pattern of sexual misconduct. “BuzzFeed News spoke with more than three dozen people, including more than two dozen former students, their friends, and their relatives, who described or corroborated instances of sexual harassment and misconduct on campus, in Cawthorn’s car, and at his house near campus. Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn, now a rising Republican star, was aggressive, misogynistic, or predatory toward them.”

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According to more than a dozen people — including three women who had firsthand experience and seven people who heard about these incidents from them at the time — Cawthorn often used his car as a way to entrap and harass his women classmates, taking them on what he could call “fun drives” off campus. Two said he would drive recklessly and ask them about their virginity and sexual experiences while they were locked in the moving vehicle.

A Ph.D. student and graduate instructor at the University of Kentucky, Caitlin Coulter, said that she met Cawthorn while at Patrick Henry College, a small Christian college in Virginia. “Cawthorn was cute and complimentary, she recalled, so when he asked her to go for a drive, she said yes. But when she was in the car, the energy changed, she told BuzzFeed News. He kept making “insinuations,” she said, asking about the purity ring on her finger, which she felt was an attempt to get her to talk about sex. She said she felt nervous and unsafe. For nearly 20 minutes, she said, she refused to answer the invasive and suggestive questions, shutting him down until he snapped.

He whipped the car around and drove back to campus recklessly, Coulter recalled. She said she had to hold on to her seat for parts of the drive back. “It was really scary,” she said. “And just I remember just being very happy to make it back home safely.” A former RA at Patrick Henry School, named Giovanna, recalls Coulter telling her, “He didn’t do anything to me, but I was afraid he was going to.”

“After that scenario,” Giovanna said, “I had to again go through my wing and warn girls not to go in his car because it was dangerous.”

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Leah Petree, a current Republican intern on Capitol Hill and former PHC student, said she thought that Cawthorn’s pestering to take her on a “fun drive” during their classes was largely just annoying. But soon, she said, he started to get in her face more, grabbing her notebook during one class and scribbling across the page, asking her to go out with him. Petree told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn persisted for weeks, despite her repeatedly reminding him that she had a boyfriend. She said he didn’t stop.

Outside her dorm, there was a parking spot reserved for drivers with disabilities, and Petree said Cawthorn would often park outside her building and call out to her while she crossed campus, asking her to join him on a drive. Petree said she grew so uncomfortable that she would check if he was outside before leaving the building.

Petree (and others) said that Cawthorn’s private persona conflicted with the public image he presented on campus. In 2017, he spoke in the chapel, telling the entire student body about the car crash that left him paralyzed from the waist down in 2014. In his address, Cawthorn said that his best friend, his “brother,” escaped and ran to safety, leaving him unconscious to die. He also said that the crash and resulting paralysis cost him a chance to get into the Naval Academy.

But in a sworn deposition in 2017, obtained by the Asheville Watchdog, Cawthorn admitted his application to the Academy had already been rejected before the crash. (The best friend had actually pulled him out and saved his life.) “Having to sit and listen to this man on a stage speak to us about his closeness with God or the events in his life, and knowing our experience with him, was really disappointing,” Petree said.

Cawthorn’s website still perpetuates his fictional story, saying he was “nominated to the U.S. Naval Academy by Rep. Mark Meadows in 2014. However, Madison’s plans were derailed that year after he nearly died in a tragic automobile accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.” Those plans had already been derailed — when the Academy rejected his application.

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Giovanna’s younger brother Diego Lastra remembers off-color discussions and jokes that Cawthorn and his friends would have. One day at the start of the spring semester, Diego, then 18, said Cawthorn was driving him and some of their friends back to his house to a party when Cawthorn asked, “Which race of girls gives the best blowjobs?” Cawthorn then interrupted him, Diego said, answering his own question: “White girls are the worst, Black girls are second, Asian girls are the best.” Another PHC student who was in the car confirmed the story

This behavior is ironic, given Cawthorn’s complaints about the moral depravity in Congress. During a conversation on the “Warrior Poets Society” podcast last month, Cawthorn was asked how similar Congress was to the fictional political world presented on the Netflix show “House of Cards.”

“The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington … being kind of a young guy in Washington, where the average age is probably 60 or 70 — [you] look at all these people, a lot of them that I’ve looked up to through my life, I’ve always paid attention to politics,” he said. “Then all of a sudden you get invited — ‘We’re going to have a sexual get-together at one of our homes, you should come.’ … What did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy. … Some of the people leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country, and then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine right in front of you. And it’s like, this is wild.”

Wild indeed.

UPDATE (April 26): Madison Cawthorn was caught trying to go through security with a loaded gun at Charlotte Douglas Internternational Airport this morning. According to multiple sources including ABC News, TSA officers spotted a 9-millimeter handgun at a checkpoint and caled airport police.

This is the second time Cawthorn has tried to go through airport security while in possession of a firearm. According to the TSA, individuals can face fines up to $13,000 for a second offense. But it is not clear if Cawthorn will face any charges.

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