A news website has published undated images of what it says show Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina wearing women’s clothes.
Cawthorn later tweeted a reply suggesting the images were from a pre-politics cruise ship game, and their publication is part of a political smear.
The website Politico published the images Friday, setting them in context of Cawthorn’s past expressions of his Christian faith and his disdain for what he’s criticized as the loose moral principles of Washington.
He made headlines last month with comments about drug-fueled orgies he said were taking place among lawmakers in the capital that appeared to implicate Republican colleagues, but later issued a statement disavowing that impression.
In December, he announced he and his wife are divorcing after only eight months of marriage.
Politico reported it “could not independently verify the photos, which are screenshots of original images.”
The outlet reported the images “were provided to Politico by a person formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign. A second person formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign confirmed the origin of the photos.”
Cawthorn, 26, was an athlete in high school who has used a wheelchair since a serious car accident when he was 18.
Is this nothing more than political dirty tricks?
“The date the photos were taken is unclear, though they appear to show Cawthorn sitting in a wheelchair, indicating the event happened after his accident,” Politico reported. “In the photos, he is wearing a distinctive pendant necklace that has appeared in other images and videos of Cawthorn. The photos have started to circulate among political rivals.”
The Raleigh News & Observer published a story about the photos on Saturday, noting it had obained copies of the photos independently.
In a Twitter post, Cawthorn called the images “goofy vacation photos.”
I guess the left thinks goofy vacation photos during a game on a cruise (taken waaay before I ran for Congress) is going to somehow hurt me?
They’re running out of things to throw at me…
Share your most embarrassing vacay pics in the replies🤦♂️https://t.co/YicRk0Albu
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) April 22, 2022
“I guess the left thinks goofy vacation photos during a game on a cruise (taken waaay before I ran for Congress) is going to somehow hurt me? They’re running out of things to throw at me… Share your most embarrassing vacay pics in the replies,” Cawthorn tweeted.
The tweet contained a link to a report about the game Cawthorn referred to.
Cawthorn later replied to one of his critics.
My gender didn’t change when I put that stuff on.
And neither does anyone else’s. https://t.co/EVZbzZaMRt
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) April 23, 2022
The images drew scathing comments from many on Twitter criticizing their publication.
I’d expect to see these photos in a tabloid because they’re a bit embarrassing but a news outlet running them with seemingly no attempt to find out when/where they were taken is a bad look.
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) April 22, 2022
That’s why they’re endorsed by President Trump and backed by the American people.
I’m praying for them and I stand with them.
— Christian Collins (@CollinsforTX) April 23, 2022
Very normal and healthy that the corporate press has spent more time finding out what Madison Cawthorn wore on a cruise than whether POTUS is getting illegal kickbacks from his son’s dealings with the Chinese Communist Party.
— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) April 23, 2022
Cawthorn’s office did not reply to the News & Observer’s requests for comment.