Madison Cawthorn called out for "lying" in new ad funded by Republican senator's super PAC

"An attention-seeking embarrassment": North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis spent over $300,000

By Jon Skolnik

Published April 25, 2022 11:25AM (EDT)

Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks before a rally for former U.S. President Donald Trump at The Farm at 95 on April 9, 2022 in Selma, North Carolina. The rally comes about five weeks before North Carolinas primary elections where Trump has thrown his support behind candidates in some key Republican races. (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks before a rally for former U.S. President Donald Trump at The Farm at 95 on April 9, 2022 in Selma, North Carolina. The rally comes about five weeks before North Carolinas primary elections where Trump has thrown his support behind candidates in some key Republican races. (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

A super PAC associated with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. accused Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., of "lying" about his past in a new political ad released just last week.

"Madison Cawthorn lied about being accepted to the Naval Academy to get elected," the 30-second spot, first reported by Axios, narrated. "Now, Cawthorn's been caught lying about conservatives. In perpetual pursuit of celebrity, Cawthorn will lie about anything."

"An attention-seeking embarrassment, Cawthorn's antics help him but hurt us. Lying about conservatives, stolen valor, Madison Cawthorn lies for the limelight," it added. 

The ad, which reportedly cost the senator $310,000, was released on YouTube last Thursday, and references a number of the freshman congressman's dubious claims about his past – most notably that he was accepted into the Naval Academy before becoming paralyzed in a 2014 car accident. 

RELATED: Will Madison Cawthorn be barred from Congress? N.C. election board says maybe

The ad also suggests Cawthorn "lied about conservatives," an apparent allusion to the congressman's recent allegations that he'd been invited to orgies by several of his GOP role models. Those remarks earned the young conservative much scorn from much of his party. Last month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., firmly claimed that Cawthorn had "lost my trust."


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Tillis has endorsed Cawthorn's primary opponent, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who has also been backed by a number of other Republicans, including North Carolina state Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore.  

"Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement," Tillis said last month.

Last week, Cawthorn, staunch religious conservative, took a beating over recently-surfaced photos of him wearing lingerie in what appeared to be a party setting. The photos were first reported by Politico.

RELATED: "He's just a bad person": Ex-staffer caught on tape blasting "habitual liar" Madison Cawthorn

After the pictures were released, Cawthorn suggested that they were part of a left-wing smear campaign. 

"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?" he tweeted. "They're running out of things to throw at me … Share your most embarrassing vacay pics in the replies."

Cawthorn is facing a crowded field of re-election opponents, with seven GOP candidates in the running.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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