Madison Cawthorn pleads to speeding violation, awaits gun charge

COLUMBUS – Former Western North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn has pleaded guilty to a Polk County speeding violation and solved nearly all of the numerous traffic and gun offenses he was charged with in half a year of his tenure.

At 6:26 p.m. on January 8, 2022, Cawthorn was driving a 2009 Dodge passenger car on US 74 at 87 miles per hour in a 70-mph zone, according to Trooper TJ Chavez-Mejia of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, who issued the ticket issued by then Congressman.

More than a year and multiple lawsuits later, his attorney, Gabrielle Valentine, made a plea deal at a county court hearing Feb. 2 of 79 miles per hour, a violation that usually carries a $202 fine, according to District Attorney Andrew Murray . Cawthorn, who relocated to Florida after his major loss in 2022 and ended his term in January, did not stand trial.

Reducing the speed fee to less than 80mph means fewer points against a license and a better chance it won’t be suspended.

Valentine didn’t comment, other than to say the matter was “resolved.”

Cawthorn did not immediately respond to a message asking for comment. Cawthorn uses a wheelchair after a 2014 car accident in which his friend was driving.

Cawthorn still faces a Class 3 misdemeanor charge for taking a loaded gun through a security checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. His next court date is May 3rd in the Mecklenburg district. The criminal violation can result in up to 20 days in prison for those with a criminal record. Asheville Regional Airport Police also say Cawthorn attempted to board a plane with an unloaded gun on February 13, 2021, but officers did not file any charges.

A list of his violations:

  • December 8, 2017 – Dismissed driving vehicle (criminal offence), Buncombe County. (NOTE: The impeachment preceded Cawthorn’s election to Congress.)
  • October 18, 2021 – Speeding 89 mph in a 65 mph zone, Buncombe County agreed to a finding of responsibility for improper equipment. Paid $266 in fines and fees.
  • January 8, 2022 – Speeding, 87 mph in a 70 mph zone, Polk County pleaded 79 mph on February 2nd. (Fines are estimated at $202.)
  • March 3, 2022 – Discharged Driving (criminal offense), Cleveland County.
  • April 22, 2022 – Carrying a loaded gun on city property (criminal offense), Charlotte Douglas International Airport, continued through May 5, 2023.

Cawthorn, now 27, resided in Henderson County and was the youngest member of the US House of Representatives when he was elected to NC’s 11th Circuit in 2020. He became known for his strong support for President Donald Trump and his inflammatory rhetoric. Various scandals and controversies marked his two-year tenure, including a finding by the House Ethics Committee that he had inappropriately promoted a cryptocurrency he owned. In May, he lost the Republican primary to Chuck Edwards, the current 11th Circuit representative.

Speaking at his final court hearing on gun charges, he expressed regret at entering Congress at such a young age, but hinted at a political comeback.

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