Ethics Committee Orders Rep. Madison Cawthorn To Pay Back $15,000 Over Crypto Promotion

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The House Ethics Committee ordered outgoing Republican North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn to pay more than $15,000 to a charity and the U.S. government over his promotion of a now-defunct cryptocurrency.

The one-term congressman, who lost a primary challenge in July, must pay $14,237.49 to a charity of his choice and a $1,000 fine to the U.S. Treasury for improperly promoting the Let’s Go Brandon cryptocoin, the committee ruled Tuesday. Cawthorn violated conflict of interest and financial reporting rules, and accepted improper gifts, according to a report released by the Ethics Committee.

Cawthorn promoted the Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency on his Instagram account on Dec. 29, 2021, writing in a post that the coin would “go to the moon.” The next day, NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced that the coin would sponsor his car, causing its value to spike. Cawthorn’s post may have violated federal insider trading laws, The Washington Examiner reported. The congressman also failed to report his purchase and sale of the coin as required by House rules, according to the report.

The ISC found substantial evidence that Representative Cawthorn promoted a cryptocurrency in which he had a financial interest in violation of rules protecting against conflicts of interest, and that he failed to file timely reports to the House disclosing his transactions relating to the cryptocurrency,” the committee wrote.

The coin peaked at $0.0000017 on Dec. 31, shortly after Brown’s announcement. Cawthorn sold large portions of his holdings in the Let’s Go Brandon coin that same day. (RELATED: ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Cryptocurrency Jumps 150% In One Week)

Cawthorn purchased 180 billion Let’s Go Brandon coins at $150,000 on Dec. 20, the report continues. However, the true value of the coin on that day was between $156,154.75 and $172,320.23. The marked-down cost constituted an improper gift to Cawthorn. Members of Congress may not accept more than $100 in gifts from a single source in a calendar year.

“The ISC also found that Representative Cawthorn’s purchase of the cryptocurrency was on more generous terms than were available to the general public, resulting in an improper gift. The ISC unanimously recommended that Representative Cawthorn be required to repay the value of the improper gift and pay all applicable fees for his late filing of disclosures for his cryptocurrency transactions,” the report explains.

Cawthorn’s office did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.