It's safe to say the Republican party has become synonymous with lying. Their former leader, Donald Trump, lied more than 30,000 times during his four years as U.S. president, and 147 Republicans voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on lies and conspiracy theories about election integrity. But no one embodies the deception of the GOP quite like freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who lies about everything, including the accident that left him partially paralyzed.
According to a Washington Post report from this weekend, while giving a speech at Patrick Henry College in 2017, Cawthorn lied multiple times about the 2014 car crash that left him reliant on a wheelchair. The Post says that Cawthorn claimed his friend who was driving the vehicle at the time, Bradley Ledford, had left him for dead.
"He was my brother, my best friend. And he leaves me in a car to die in a fiery tomb," Cawthorn said of the accident. "He runs to safety deep in the woods and just leaves me in a burning car as the flames start to lick my legs and curl up and burn my left side." Cawthorn also claimed he was pronounced dead at the scene, but thanks to "adrenaline or divine intervention, I definitely believe it's the latter, I had a deep inhale of breath."
The problem, of course, is that none of it was true. According to Ledford, he saved Cawthorn's life. "That statement he made was false," Ledford told The Washington Post. "It hurt very badly that he would say something as false as that. That is not at all what happened. I pulled him out of the car the second that I was able to get out of the car." And, according to a court deposition, Cawthorn claims he has no memory from the accident. And per a police accident report and Florida Highway Patrol records, Cawthorn was "incapacitated and in critical condition" but was not declared dead.
Cawthorn launched his congressional campaign and has long-relied on the fictional version of the car accident to reach his political goals. He has also claimed that the crash derailed his dreams of attending the Naval Academy — another outright lie. Cawthorn was friends with former Rep. Mark Meadows' son, Blake, and in December 2013, he convinced Meadows to nominate Cawthorn to the Naval Academy via a "process that enables a local member of Congress to recommend candidates," The Post reports. But Cawthorn's acceptance also hinged on his grades and other benchmarks, and prior to the car accident, he was rejected from the Naval Academy. Cawthorn said in a court deposition that "he went on a spring break trip in Florida with his friend Ledford" after his application was denied.
Cawthorn has championed himself as a Trump-like candidate, and in just two months as a congressman, he has certainly lived up to the hype. More than 30 former classmates of Cawthorn's told BuzzFeed they "witnessed, experienced, or knew of sexual harassment and misconduct" by Cawthorn on his Christian college's campus. In October, more than 160 former students of the same college signed an open letter describing Cawthorn's predatory behavior. He visited Adolf Hitler's vacation home and in an Instagram post marking the occasion, described Hitler as "the Fuhrer."
He has also promised to use his position of power as a sitting congressman to convert Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians to Christianity, saying, "If you're not wanting to lead somebody to Christ, then you're probably not really a Christian." He attacked then-candidate Raphael Warnock using racist dog whistles and thinly-veiled white supremacist language. He spoke at the pro-Trump rally on January 6 that led to the deadly insurrection attempt by Trump supporters, spreading lies about the 2020 election results. He later claimed the insurrectionists were "paid by the Democratic machine."
So, no, it's not a surprise that Cawthorn is guilty of lying his way into his seat. If anything, Cawthorn is proof that Trump is not simply the leader of the Republican Party. The Republican Party is full of Donald Trumps.