(The Hill/WNCN) — Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) has called a nude videotape leak of him that recently surfaced online “blackmail,” saying he won’t back down after the “hit against me.”
The North Carolina lawmaker in a tweet acknowledged that the video was authentic and said that he was joking around with a friend.
“A new hit against me just dropped. Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking,” Cawthron wrote in his tweet. “That’s it.”
Cawthorn continued in the tweet, “I’m NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won’t win. We will.”
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The comments from the freshman lawmaker come after the American Muckrakers PAC, an opposition group campaigning against Cawthorn, said they posted the video after receiving it from an anonymous source who said they used to be a Cawthorn donor.
“Madison Cawthorn should resign from Congress today. While his sexual orientation or behavior behind closed doors is no interest whatsoever to us, his actions should have consequences,” Muckrakers PAC President David B. Wheeler said in a statement on the posting of the video.
“Ask him for any of this information. We do not know those details. We do know Rep. Cawthorn shouldn’t be in Congress regardless of when this video was taken.”
Representatives for Cawthorn did not reply to a request for comment on the video.
In an interview Thursday, Wheeler said, “I think it’s the hypocrisy of speaking out against the LGBTQ community, speaking out against the definition of man and woman and then to see this kind of behavior is an absolute hypocrisy.”
He rejected Cawthorn’s claim about blackmail.
“We haven’t contacted him. We haven’t contacted his staff or anybody associated with his campaign. So, he’s pointing blackmail at us. That’s certainly not the case. We haven’t asked him to do anything,” he said.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R) responded to the video Thursday, calling it “yet another example of Madison Cawthorn’s embarrassing conduct.”
Tillis has endorsed another Republican in the primary, state Sen. Chuck Edwards. A group aligned with Tillis is spending about $300,000 on ads in the district against Cawthorn.
“The residents of NC-11 deserve a congressman who will represent the mountains with integrity, not one who constantly embarrasses them and their district,” Tillis said.
Cawthorn’s response made reference to previous comments he made in an Instagram post where he said that the “establishment” would be launching a coordinated “drip campaign” against him.
“They’re going to drop an attack article every one or two days just to try and kill us with a death by 1,000 cuts, and that is really their main strategy,” Cawthorn, 26, said late Tuesday night on Instagram.
The video’s release comes as Cawthorn, who is up for reelection in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, has faced multiple controversies and faced rebuke from fellow GOP members of Congress.
The 26-year-old recently received backlash from fellow Republicans after making a claim in a radio interview that lawmakers had invited him to orgies and cocaine parties. He was also accused by a former congressional staffer of improperly firing her after she denied medical and family leave.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that Cawthorn had to “turn himself around.”
Cawthorn, who also recently had photos leaked of him wearing women’s lingerie at a party, was cited last month for attempting to bring a loaded firearm through security at a Charlotte, N.C. area airport.