August 17, 2022

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) reportedly spent more money than he had in his campaign coffers and is now facing $17,000 in fines from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the FEC could levy a fine of $17,141 on Cawthorn because he filed his campaign finance report a month late. The paper based its conclusion on a fine calculator on the FEC website. A vote from FEC commissioners would determine the actual fine.

"Cawthorn's paperwork showed a campaign that through June 30 spent more than it brought in, despite a $207,858 donation from the personal funds of the 27-year-old first-term Henderson County congressman," the paper noted. "Among places donors' money was used was $1,812 spent at a tobacco shop."

In an Instagram video posted in July, Cawthorn displayed what he said was his favorite cigar, selling for about $150 a box.

Another $248,098 was returned to contributors because it was intended to be used for the general election campaign, the Citizen-Times said.

FEC spokesperson Christian Hilland speculated about why Cawthorn filed the report nearly a month late.

"Major party candidates tend to have more money, and they're able to afford a compliance person or a law firm to handle their reports," Hilland explained.

The FEC is expected to examine whether Cawthorn returned all the funds earmarked for the general election.

"If it is found there was knowing and willful intent to violate campaign finance law, that rises to the level of a crime and could be cause for Department of Justice action," the report said.

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