Cawthorn responds to leaked video showing him simulating sex act

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:24 AM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 10:27 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) - A political group whose primary focus is unseating U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn released a graphic video Wednesday showing Cawthorn naked and simulating a sex act near someone he describes as a friend.

WRAL is reporting that Cawthorn acknowledged the video, which was released by American Muckrakers PAC, a political group that runs the Fire Madison Cawthorn website.

“A new hit against me just dropped,” Cawthorn said in a statement. “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 first-term congressman, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, has been the target of opposition groups and political opponents as he runs for reelection in the state’s westernmost district. He faces a crowded field of GOP challengers in the May 17 primary.

David B. Wheeler, president of American Muckrakers PAC, said in a statement that the video was “passed to us by a former supporter” of Cawthorn. Wheeler didn’t name the former supporter.

The video was posted shortly after Cawthorn released a seven-minute video disputing recent media coverage and ads from political opponents. He also took accountability for recent brushes with law enforcement officials.

In the video Cawthorn released Wednesday, he took issue with “hit piece mailers” from opponents that he described as factually incorrect. And he took issue with a variety of news articles about photos showing him wearing lingerie and allegations of insider trading.

“I’ve really never seen the swamp launch such a coordinated attack against any individual politician except for [former President] Donald Trump,” he said in the video.

He addressed a recent citation he received for bringing a loaded gun to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“I love and defend the Second Amendment as a man in a wheelchair who faces death threats,” he said. “... I carry a weapon almost all the time. Obviously, though, I made a mistake. I forgot to disarm before I went through a TSA checkpoint. That’s my bad, and I have to own that one.”

And he said an article by Politico that featured images of Cawthorn wearing lingerie “is pushing a ludicrous narrative that I’m some kind of drag queen on the side, aside from being a congressman.

“Ask yourself this,” Cawthorn said. “Have you ever taken a dumb photo on vacation? Most people have. The media thinks that playing a goofy game on a cruise ship with my friends and family means that I can’t serve in Congress. That is garbage.”

Cawthorn also took accountability for recent traffic stops that have made news recently.

“I’ll slow down on the road, he said, “but I won’t slow down working to fix Congress.”

Cawthorn is running against seven GOP opponents, with state Sen. Chuck Edwards posing the most formidable challenge on the ideologically centered lane, while local GOP official Michele Woodhouse challenges Cawthorn from the right.

In recent months, Cawthorn has come under fire for videos showing him being pulled over by police for speeding, calling Ukraine’s president a “thug,” and making a highly questionable claim that he was invited by older Republican colleagues to an orgy.

U.S. Sen Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Republican state Senate leader Phil Berger and state House Speaker Tim Moore, also a Republican, are among North Carolina’s top elected officials opposing Cawthorn’s run and instead supporting Edwards.

It’s unusual for a sitting member of Congress to have strong opposition within their own party during primaries.

If no candidate gets over 30% of the vote in the primary, the two highest vote-getters would square off in a July runoff.

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