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Cawthorn opens legal expense fund to pay for election challenge costs

North Carolina Republican’s legal expense trust fund was filed with the Legislative Resource Center

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks to Trump supporters from the Ellipse at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress prepares to certify the electoral college votes.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks to Trump supporters from the Ellipse at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress prepares to certify the electoral college votes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Madison Cawthorn opened a legal expense fund to pay costs from a challenge to his candidacy for reelection that alleged he should be ineligible because of his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to documents reviewed by CQ Roll Call.

The North Carolina Republican’s legal expense trust fund was filed with the Legislative Resource Center on Feb. 22, after receiving approval from the House Ethics Committee. Cawthorn is listed as the trustor and Patrick Corrigan as the trustee of the fund.

The challenge to Cawthorn’s candidacy was filed in January before the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Cawthorn then sued to stop the challenge in federal court. Earlier this month, Cawthorn prevailed when the challenge was blocked by a federal district court judge.

Cawthorn spoke at former President Donald Trump’s rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol attack. He voted to overturn 2020 presidential election results. Days before the attack, he posted a tweet that ended with, “It’s time to fight.”

The complaint alleged that Cawthorn fails to meet constitutional requirements for a member and should be disqualified under section three of the 14th Amendment, which holds that, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress… to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Members can open these legal expense funds for legal bills related to their candidacy for election, criminal prosecution and civil issues regarding their reputation or fitness for office, among other purposes. Contributions from individuals or organizations cannot exceed $5,000 in a calendar year and the trust can’t receive money from a lobbying firm, lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal.

In an unrelated legal matter, news broke on Wednesday about Cawthorn being cited by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for driving with a revoked license earlier this month, WITN in North Carolina reported. It is his third traffic violation in five months, with two previous charges related to speeding.

A spokesperson for Cawthorn did not respond to a request for comment.

In February, Rep. Alex X. Mooney, R-W.V., opened a legal expense fund to pay for costs associated with investigations into him.

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