Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) has called for an investigation of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) for possible insider trading in cryptocurrency.
Tillis called for an investigation following a Washington Examiner report that Cawthorn had raised suspicion among “several watchdog groups” over his promotion of the “Let’s Go Brandon” cryptocurrency, which references to a vulgar anti-Joe Biden phrase.
The Examiner posted an Instagram photo posted last December in which Cawthorn posed with hedge fund manager James Koutoulas, the man behind the “Let’s Go Brandon” coin. In the post, Cawthorn promoted the piece, bragged about owning it, and said she was “going to the moon” the next day.
Sure enough, the next day, NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced that the cryptocurrency would be his primary sponsor for the 2022 racing season, which sent the coin’s value skyrocketing by 75%, the Examiner reported.
NASCAR curbed sponsorship soon after.
According to the newspaper, the coin’s total value hit $570 million before hitting rock bottom just a month later, leading to accusations of a “pump and dump” scheme. In such a strategy, organizers hype an investment and then dump their holdings, reaping big gains while unwitting brands find themselves holding deflated assets.
“It looks really, really bad,” Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, told reviewer. “It sounds like a classic case where you got inside information and acted on that information. And that’s illegal.”
An investor has already filed a class action lawsuit against Koutoulas. Although Cawthorn is not the target of the lawsuit, he is named as one of the “celebrities” who have touted the play.
Cawthorn did not respond to the Examiner, or the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), which picked up the story. However, on Instagram, he lambasted an unnamed senator and called him a “RINO” (Republican in name only). He also complained that “the establishment” targeted him.
Cawthorn has come under fire in recent months during several encounters with law enforcement. He was arrested twice for speeding, driving without a license and driving with a suspended license, authorities said.
Then on Tuesday, Cawthorn received a misdemeanor citation for possession of a dangerous weapon for attempting to smuggle a loaded handgun through a security checkpoint at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, police said.
This was the second time Cawthorn had been caught swiping guns past airport security. He was arrested last year at Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina as he attempted to board a plane with an unloaded gun and a loaded magazine of ammunition in his carry-on.
At the time, he said it was just a mistake.