Though Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is taking serious heat for his involvement with a dubious cryptocurrency venture, he’s not the only one to have supported it.
Both former President Donald Trump and his son Don Jr. promoted the digital asset, known as Let’s Go Brandon coin after the coded insult for President Joe Biden.
The Washington Examiner published an article on Tuesday accusing Cawthorn of participating in a “pump and dump” scheme around the coin, suggesting that he promoted the coin based on non-public information — increasing its value — then sold it before it crashed.
The report speculated that Cawthorn could be investigated over his involvement in the coin. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) jumped out of the woodwork on Wednesday morning to suggest that the allegations merited a congressional inquiry.
The report — from a right-leaning news outlet — all comes weeks after Cawthorn said that, upon arriving in Washington as a member of Congress, politicians that he admired invited him to attend cocaine-fueled “sexual get-togethers.”
Since then, Republican party leaders have furiously distanced themselves from Cawthorn. Tillis endorsed a primary challenger to Cawthorn, and a Tillis-aligned Super PAC dropped more than $300,000 on anti-Cawthorn ads last week.
It’s not clear, even from the cryptocurrency’s backers, what differentiated Let’s Go Brandon coin from a slew of MAGA-themed currencies available to investors — besides its name capitalizing on the trollish phrase. But Cawthorn was far from the only high-profile conservative politician to back the venture.
The company backing the coin appears to have sought to associate itself with high-profile conservative politicians and influencers. James Koutoulas, a founder of the coin, said in December 2021 that the “Let’s Go Brandon coin foundation” would contribute $100,000 to Turning Point USA, the conservative non-profit founded by Charlie Kirk.
Donald Trump Jr. promoted the coin this month, tagging it in a tweet.
His father, the former president, was offered 500 billion Let’s Go Brandon tokens in an interview with a right-wing talk radio host last month.
On March 10, radio host David Harris Jr. aired a 25-minute interview he did with the former President, asking Trump a smattering questions about Ukraine, World Economic Forum host Klaus Schwab, and the COVID-19 vaccines.
It was a low-energy discussion, before Harris ended it with two questions. The first was simple: “What are your thoughts on the Let’s Go Brandon movement?”
“It’s happening, I’ll tell you it is happening, I see it all the time — people are breaking into that chant,” Trump replied.
Harris had previewed the question by praising Koutoulas, a founder of the Let’s Go Brandon coin, and referring to a $100,000 “fundraising donation” that Koutoulas supposedly made or Trump. “He has started something around this whole message of Let’s Go Brandon,” Harris said.
Trump added that there are “a lot of great people involved in that movement too, you mentioned, but it is something that is going on, and the chants are breaking out all over, no matter who is speaking.”
Harris followed up, describing the Let’s Go Brandon “meme token” and saying that Koutoulas wanted Trump to receive 500 billion of the tokens. “They are yours, Mr. President, they are earmarked for you,” Harris said, adding that the token existed to “support the truckers, they want to support fireman, police, nurses, doctors that have been fired because of the jab mandate.”
“Okay, that sounds good,” Trump replied. “That sounds good. Tell you what, those groups are the right groups to support.”
Let’s Go Brandon coin’s founders, and some of its promoters, have been hit with one class-action lawsuit, filed by an investor in the digital asset, that accuses the coin’s developers of executing an elaborate pump-and-dump scheme around the coin.
Koutoulas told TPM in an email that the allegations were “completely frivolous” and described the lawsuit as “idiotic.”
“In order to do a pump and dump, one needs to dump – I never did; in fact, I have supported the coin 100%,” he wrote. “So they are alleging I schemed against myself?”
The lawsuit does not name Cawthorn as a defendant, but does say that he helped promote the coin along with other conservative influencers that include Harris and Candace Owens.
Cawthorn has fired back, claiming that “the establishment and the RINOs” were launching a “drip campaign” against him to achieve “death by one thousand cuts.”
“We serve our district very hard, but we also fight this culture battle, and we’re starting to get attacked by the political establishment,” he said. “I do not make any apologies for making sure that we cultivate a following across all platforms, trying to reach out to my generation.”