Would it shock you to learn that Madison Cawthorn may have committed a crypto crime?
Not to be confused with his other oopsies, like trying to bring loaded guns onto airplanes.
It’s hard to imagine how Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s week could get much worse than it did after he was busted — for the second time! — carrying a handgun through airport security. For most people, that’s the sort of legal imbroglio which might inspire you to reflect on the various choices that brought you to this point in your life. For Cawthorn, it’s not even the worst thing to happen to him on a Tuesday.
Just as news about Cawthorn’s latest airport oopsie was being confirmed by TSA officials and news outlets around the country, the Washington Examiner published allegations from a number of government watchdog officials alleging Cawthorn may have implicated himself in an illegal insider trading scheme involving cryptocurrency, NASCAR, and the lamest political slogan in decades. And while the congressman was merely cited for his attempt to fly while armed, the insider trading allegations — if confirmed — are a serious enough crime to carry the risk of actual jail time.
At issue is an Instagram post from this past December, in which Cawthorn is seen posing alongside James Koutoulas, the brains behind the painfully cringe “Let’s Go Brandon” cryptocurrency.
In a comment on the picture, Cawthorn enthusiastically predicted that “Tomorrow we go to the moon!” Which, incidentally, is what happened just 24 hours later, when NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced the cryptocoin would be his top race sponsor that season — a deal worth somewhere in the range of eight figures — despite not being allowed to advertise the coin on his car. As the Examiner notes, LGBCoin’s value shot up a whopping 75% as a result, raising the extremely plausible prospect that Cawthorn had hopped aboard the LGBCoin train at a lower price, based on the the not-yet-public knowledge that Brown’s announcement would likely send the value sky high. In other words: insider trading.
Seems ... bad.
“I think there’s probably a strong case here,” Project on Government Oversight government affairs manager Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette told the Examiner. “I don’t want to prejudge, but based on everything that’s out there, I think there is a very strong possibility that if someone is going to investigate this, they’re going to find something.”
Since its initial surge, the LGBCoin’s value has dropped precipitously, though Cawthorn continues to hawk it as a way to “take the power of currency away from the government.”
Cawthorn has also been a vocal proponent of deregulating the cryptocurrency market and, while it’s unclear whether he owns any LGBCoins himself (Koutoulas has strongly suggested he does), his deep involvement in the promotion and legitimization of LGBCoins comes amidst renewed scrutiny over lawmakers being allowed to own, sell, and declare their crypto assets while in office.
Meanwhile, even if Cawthorn is proven to have broken insider trading laws, it’s an open question as to whether he’ll face any real consequences for his actions. In recent months nearly 60 members of Congress were caught in violation of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, and none have faced any serious repercussions to date.