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Rep. Madison Cawthorn illegally spent campaign funds he can't pay back: report

The first-term rep. who was defeated in his primary battle is now liable for repaying general election campaign funds that he spent illegally during his May race

July 25, 2022 7:43pm

Updated: July 26, 2022 1:15pm

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who recently lost his primary bid for a second term in the House, reportedly spent campaign cash illegally and is now unable to repay his supporters. 

According to the Daily Beast, in the final days of Cawthorn's primary campaign, the freshman representative was low on cash and dipped into campaign funds reserved for general election spending.

"There was just no money. It was dollar-in, dollar-out. So if he loses, it’s a really bad thing, and the only way to cover it is getting money straight from the candidate or treasurer," a source told the Beast.

Federal law stipulates that candidates are able to fundraise for primary and general election races at the same time, but the donations must be used on the race for which they are designated – or be paid back.

Because Cawthorn was defeated in his primary battle, he now must repay the donations he took for his general election race. However, according to the report, his campaign spent many of those funds, which presents a problem in terms of refunding the cash.

Per the outlet, records indicate that Cawthorn had just under $140,000 cash on hand in May, and owed about $325,000. The source added that the Cawthorn campaign paid especially excessive consulting fees, which became the main funding drain. 

"Nobody ever did the math, which baffled me because the spending was so outrageous," said the source.

Cawthorn lost his May primary following months of scandals, including multiple highway run-ins with law enforcement officers, an alleged inappropriate relationship with a staffer, a podcast appearance during which he alleged D.C. lawmakers took cocaine and participated in orgies, etc. State Sen. Chuck Edwards will compete in November for the seat Cawthorn currently occupies.