The Washington Post ran an extensive backgrounder on Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC). The whole article is behind their paywall, but to sum it up, he’s basically made up most of his up-from-tragedy / thank-you-Jesus story.
Madison Cawthorn was a 21-year-old freshman at a conservative Christian college when he spoke at chapel, testifying about his relationship with God. He talked emotionally about the day a car accident left him partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair.
Cawthorn said a close friend had crashed the car in which he was a passenger and fled the scene, leaving him to die “in a fiery tomb.” Cawthorn was “declared dead,” he said in the 2017 speech at Patrick Henry College. He said he told doctors that he expected to recover and that he would “be at the Naval Academy by Christmas.”
Key parts of Cawthorn’s talk, however, were not true. The friend, Bradley Ledford, who has not previously spoken publicly about the chapel speech, said in an interview that Cawthorn’s account was false and that he pulled Cawthorn from the wreckage. An accident report obtained by The Washington Post said Cawthorn was “incapacitated,” not that he was declared dead. Cawthorn himself said in a lawsuit deposition, first reported by the news outlet AVL Watchdog, that he had been rejected by the Naval Academy before the crash.
Shortly after the speech, Cawthorn dropped out of the college after a single semester of mostly D’s, he said in the deposition, which was taken as part of a court case regarding insurance. Later, more than 150 former students signed a letter accusing him of being a sexual predator, which Cawthorn has denied.
Yet four years after Cawthorn spoke at the chapel, the portrait he sketched of his life provided the framework for his election in November as the youngest member of the U.S. House at the minimum age of 25 years old. A campaign video ad repeated his false claim that the car wreck had derailed his plans to attend the Naval Academy.
He promptly used his newfound fame to push baseless allegations about voting fraud on Twitter in a video viewed 4 million times, which President Donald Trump retweeted, saying, “Thank you Madison!” Then Cawthorn spoke at the Jan. 6 rally where a mob was incited to storm the U.S. Capitol, again alleging fraud and extolling the crowd’s courage in comparison with the “cowards” in Congress. He returned to the Capitol, where he falsely claimed that insurrectionists had been “paid by the Democratic machine.”
This doesn’t surprise anyone, I’m sure. He’s following in the footsteps of a lot of other Republican up-and-comers, including a retiree who lives here in Florida, sucking on the government tit.
He and Josh Hawley should all take a vacation with Ted Cruz to Cancun.