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Madison Cawthorn faces hefty FEC fine for disclosing campaign finances nearly a month late

Outgoing Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) faces a significant fine for submitting his campaign finance report nearly a month late to the Federal Election Commission.

Cawthorn reported Sunday that his campaign had just $1,500 on hand at the end of June after completely exhausting the $4.2 million he had raised since the start of 2021. Even though Cawthorn contributed $208,000 to his campaign on June 30, it entered July with $305,000 in outstanding debts, the bulk of which were owed to an LLC owned by his chief of staff, Blake Harp.

“The closing out of a large campaign can sometimes take more time than anticipated,” Harp told WRAL News last week.


Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, explained to the Washington Examiner that FEC fines for late filings are based on a formula that takes into account how many days late the report is filed, as well as the campaign’s fundraising and spending during the time period reported.

Cawthorn faces an estimated fine of $17,141 for being 29 days late filing his report, which disclosed just over $1 million in total receipts and distributions, according to the FEC’s administrative fine calculator.

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., talks to supporters at his primary election night watch party in Hendersonville, N.C., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Nell Redmond/AP

Whether or not Cawthorn or his campaign will have to pay a fine will be determined by a vote by the FEC’s six commissioners, the Citizen Times reported.

Harp did not return a request for comment.

Cawthorn appointed himself as his campaign’s treasurer and custodian of records on July 15, a move that could expose him to personal liability if the FEC follows through on its threat to fine his campaign for its late reporting.

Cawthorn’s campaign also refunded $248,000 in contributions between late April and the end of June, the filing shows.

The refunds appear to have gone to large-dollar donors who had contributed to Cawthorn’s general election fund before his May 17 primary loss to state Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-NC). Cawthorn was required to refund those contributions within 60 days of his primary defeat.

Cawthorn’s campaign also spent $2,000 at a private golf club in western North Carolina, $1,800 at a high-end tobacco shop in Asheville, $710 at Hobby Lobby, $602 at the Papas Beer restaurant, and $529 at Chick-fil-A between late April and the end of June, the filing shows.

The FEC previously threatened Cawthorn with legal enforcement action for failing to file his campaign finance report covering the time period between late April and the end of June, which was originally due on July 15.

The looming FEC fine against Cawthorn comes as the outgoing lawmaker faces a House Ethics Committee investigation over allegations that he engaged in an insider trading scheme related to the “Let’s Go Brandon” meme cryptocurrency.

Multiple government watchdog groups previously told the Washington Examiner that Cawthorn may have implicated himself in an insider trading scheme when he wrote, “LGB legends … Tomorrow we go to the moon!” in response to a Dec. 29 Instagram picture of himself posing with the meme coin’s ringleader, James Koutoulas.

The next day, LGBCoin’s value spiked upwards by 75% following NASCAR driver Brandon Brown’s announcement that the coin would be the primary sponsor of his 2022 season. Koutoulas was featured in Brown’s press release.


Cawthorn disclosed in late May that he sold upward of $250,000 of the meme cryptocurrency as it peaked in price in late December. Less than a month later, LGBCoin had lost 100% of its value.

Cawthorn’s ties to the meme cryptocurrency were just part of a string of embarrassing stories that surfaced against the lawmaker in the lead-up to his May 17 primary loss.

The North Carolina lawmaker was alleged to have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with one of his congressional staffers, he was arrested for trying to bring a handgun past security at an airport, and a video surfaced of the congressman naked in bed getting physical and making noises with another man.

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