Madison Cawthorn has got problems. As if losing his bid for re-election weren’t humiliating enough, the North Carolina congressman (for now—tick tock, tick tock) is now facing some serious questions from the House Ethics Committee about his purchase, promotion, and sale—in that order—of the idiotically-named Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency (at a time when the Feds seem to be trying to crack down on crypto insider trading).
Like so many other possibly shady dealings, Cawthorn’s involvement in the crypto investment goes back to Donald Trump. According to Fortune, it was reportedly at a Christmas party hosted by the former president in Naples, Florida that the 26-year-old was told about the coin by James Koutoulas, a hedge fund manager and Let’s Go Brandon backer. A few weeks later, Cawthorn sent Koutoulas a check for approximately $150,000 to invest in the coin, and his transaction posted on December 21—then sh*t got real.
Cawthorn later predicted LGB’s price would the next day “go to the moon” in a Dec. 29 Instagram comment. When the LGB team announced a sponsorship of NASCAR driver Brandon Brown on Dec. 30, the coin indeed rallied mightily. The next day, Cawthorn sold off roughly a third of his LGB for a considerably more liquid cryptocurrency, ether (ETH), fetching a 94% return in dollar terms (though it’s unclear if he moved that ETH to cash).
It was a sequence of events that would come to haunt the first-term representative. Six months later—after a sea of scandals sunk his reelection bid—Cawthorn’s LGB trades are under investigation by the U.S. House Ethics Committee.
While Cawthorn happily promoted the coin and how “well” it had worked out for him, the truth is a bit more complicated. Because cryptocurrency is not closely regulated, it’s difficult to determine how much the political newbie might have benefited from his purported attempt at insider trading. But according to several financial experts, it’s likely that he went to all that trouble—and now put himself in the crosshairs of the Ethics Committee—for nothing. “He’s at best close to even,” according to Fortune. “At worst he’s down bad from a mix of taxable capital gains and the bear market slump.”
Still, there’s a chance Cawthorn will go down in the history books: At the moment, he’s both the youngest Republican ever elected to congress (he was 25 at the time) as well as the youngest-ever Republican congressperson to lose their re-election bid. Let’s go Madison!