scorecardHouse ethics panel investigates Madison Cawthorn over 'improper relationship' and crypto promotion
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House ethics panel investigates Madison Cawthorn over 'improper relationship' and crypto promotion

Brent D. Griffiths,Camila DeChalus   

House ethics panel investigates Madison Cawthorn over 'improper relationship' and crypto promotion
CryptocurrencyCryptocurrency3 min read
  • The House Ethics Committee announced that it is investigating Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
  • The panel said it is looking into an alleged "improper relationship" with a staffer.

The House Ethics Committee announced on Monday it is investigating embattled Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn over a potentially "improper relationship" with a staffer and his promotion of an anti-Joe Biden-themed cryptocurrency.

The committee, which rarely makes public statements, said it voted unanimously on May 11 to establish an investigation into the North Carolina lawmaker. An Ethics panel investigation is a serious step, but does not necessarily prove any wrongdoing.

Cawthorn is already set to leave Congress in January, following his primary defeat to North Carolina state Sen. Chuck Edwards. It's not clear what consequences he'd face on his way out should the investigation find any wrongdoing.

In response, Cawthorn's office said it "welcomed the opportunity to prove that Congressman Cawthorn committed no wrongdoing," adding that the North Carolinian was "falsely accused by partisan adversaries for political gain."

"This inquiry is a formality," Cawthorn's chief of staff Blake Harp said in a statement. "Our office isn't deterred in the slightest from completing the job the patriots of Western North Carolina sent us to Washington to accomplish."

Some congressional experts previously told Insider that they doubt anything will come out of a congressional ethics investigation.

Congress does little to hold members of Congress and congressional staffers accountable when they conduct investigations, Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager of Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group, previously told Insider.

"The track record of the ethics committees in both chambers is really being largely impotent and largely useless when it comes to these things," he said.

If a US lawmaker is found to have violated house ethics rules then they could be subjected to a number of penalties including a censure which is a formal statement of disapproval by the House Speaker. Or in extreme cases Congress could expel a sitting lawmaker.

A first-term lawmaker, Cawthorn has courted controversy from before he was even sworn into Congress. The constant swirl of scandal and headlines finally chafed on top North Carolina lawmakers enough that one, Sen. Thom Tillis, made the rare move to endorse a primary challenger to a Republican incumbent from his state.

"Chuck Edwards has proven he's a hardworking conservative leader who delivers conservative results," Tillis previously said in a statement. "He'll never give up on his day job in search of celebrity status in Washington, D.C., with no record of results to speak of."

The committee's interest in Cawthorn's possible improper promotion of cryptocurrency is almost certainly in response to a Washingon Examiner report that found that Cawthorn held a stake in the "Let's Go Brandon"-themed cryptocurrency. The report found that the Republican may have violated insider trading laws by hyping up the meme coin while appearing to have non-public knowledge of the currency's trajectory — namely that NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, the original Brandon in question, would be sponsored by the coin. News of the sponsorship, which was later nixed, briefly sent the cryptocurrency's value skyrocketing.

Insider's subsequent reporting found that Cawthorn could have violated a different law by not properly disclosing his stake in LGBCoin. Lawmakers are required to file reports about their financial holdings, including crypto purchases.

Last week, Cawthorn vowed that he would use his remaining time in Washington to "expose" fellow Republicans who had helped take him down or not stood up for him.

Before Cawthorn hinted at revenge, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressed that he still wanted to "help" Cawthorn.

"I want to help him. He had some issues, but he's young and so you don't wish somebody ill," McCarthy told CNN's Manu Raju.