Candidate’s claim produces misconception – Smoky Mountain News

13August 2020

“Madison was homeschooled in Hendersonville and was chosen to the Naval Academy by Rep. Mark Meadows in 2014,” according to the 11thdistrict prospect’s website.“Nevertheless, Madison’s plans were thwarted that year after he almost died in a tragic auto mishap that left him partly paralyzed and in a wheelchair.”

However in a 2017 sworn deposition obtained by AVL Watchdog, Cawthorn confessed his application to the Academy had actually already been rejected prior to the crash. The campaign did not comment, in spite of repeated demands over several days.

The Naval Academy referral is a crucial part of the 25-year-old’s public picture, featuring plainly in his campaign speeches and interviews. Cawthorn takes care to state he was chosen and that his plans were “derailed” by the crash, two statements that when taken together develop the impression he was headed to Annapolis to attend the prestigious Academy were it not for the 2014 crash.

A congressional election is just a primary step in a highly competitive procedure to go into the Naval Academy. In 2014, more than 17,000 trainees looked for admission by looking for election from a House or Senate member, the President, the secretary of the Navy and other sources. In a common year, according to the Academy’s website, about 5,000 of these candidates are chosen, as Cawthorn was.

But– after extensive screening by the Academy’s own selection committee that consists of physical conditioning, leadership abilities and efficiency in school and on standardized tests– barely one in five of the candidates wins appointment and gets in the Academy. Cawthorn was amongst those declined.

Yet he has actually not openly corrected the misimpression that he would have entered the Academy in the class of 2018 were it not for the automobile crash. Nor has he attempted to remedy lots of TELEVISION recruiters who, in their introductions, typically repeat the expression that his aspiration was “derailed” by his injuries.

His project website and Instagram page include an image of Cawthorn wearing a Navy sweatshirt and another of him taking part in a training workout with others, all in the group wearing military tiredness and inflatable jackets pulling boats onto a beach. Cawthorn calls the group “my squad.”

Crash and After-effects

Cawthorn, then 18, was a passenger in an SUV driven by his good friend, Bradley Ledford, that crashed while going back to North Carolina from a spring vacation trip in Florida. According to the Florida Highway Patrol mishap report, Ledford admitted “dozing off” while driving, lost control of the automobile and crashed into an abutment. The automobile burst into flames. Cawthorn invested much of the next year undergoing surgical treatments and treatment. Treatment for discomfort in his legs continued more three years later on, he stated in the deposition.

Ledford’s insurance carrier, Auto-Owners Insurance, provided Cawthorn $3 million, the policy limit, to cover his treatments and settle the claim within days of the crash, according to testament and court records. But under the suggestions of his attorney, Cawthorn at first balked at accepting the $3 million and took legal action against Ledford’s insurer for $30 million for acting in bad faith.

A judge eventually ruled in favor of the insurance company, but the suit resulted in the sworn deposition taken Oct. 12, 2017 and questioning by the insurance company’s attorney, Greg Burge.

The lawyer asked Cawthorn:” [A] t some time, you were informed by the Naval Academy that you did not get in?”

“Yes, sir,” Cawthorn responded.

The lawyer continued: “Was it– it was prior to the accident?”

Cawthorn answered: “It was, sir.”

Cawthorn did not respond to multiple emailed ask for remark from AVL Guard dog. The campaign press secretary, Angela Nicholas, replied on Saturday that “we will get you something as soon as it is prepared.” A follow-up request for comment on Sunday got no reply.

The prospect likewise exposed in the deposition that he had actually been not successful in his later enrollment at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, a little evangelical Christian school typically went to by homeschoolers and that has a credibility for effectively placing graduates into high federal government positions.

After going into the school in August 2016 to study political science, he dropped out after one term and made mostly D’s, Cawthorn affirmed, primarily due to the fact that his injuries interfered with his capability to learn.

When the insurance-company attorney asked him the factor for leaving Patrick Henry, Cawthorn reacted with a single word: “Heartbreak.” He added that his then-fiancé left him for another schoolmate, hypothesizing it was due to the fact that she “didn’t get along with my mom.”

Cawthorn stated he thought about applying to 2 other schools with online programs, the Harvard Extension School and Liberty University, but didn’t follow through.

The reasons for the Naval Academy’s rejection of Cawthorn are confidential. One of the admission requirements is a trainee’s performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test– the three-test SAT of a trainee’s capabilities in mathematics, spoken comprehension and writing– required by numerous institution of higher learnings.

A best score is 800. Under questioning from the attorney, Cawthorn stated he thought he had gotten a 590 in math, a 620 in verbal and a 650 in writing. Extremely selective institution of higher learnings such as the federal academies typically expect applicants to accomplish ratings in those tests of 700 or above.

After his quick stint in college, Cawthorn has stated he became a small business owner involved in property and other financial investments. At the time of the deposition, however, Cawthorn affirmed that he had no task and that his only earnings came from a $700 month-to-month Social Security special needs payment. When Burge pushed him about investment income earned from the insurance settlement, Cawthorn said the investments were dealt with by his older brother, Zachary Cawthorn, an expert monetary advisor.

Cawthorn is the sole owner and staff member of a financial investment company called SPQR LLC, created in August 2019. On the financial disclosure form he submitted as required by all candidates, he reported no earnings from it. In the 2017 deposition, Cawthorn said the only jobs he had actually held to that point was as a manager in a Chick-fil-A restaurant while a teenager, and after the mishap as a staff assistant in then-U.S. Rep. Meadows’ district office.

Excerpts from Cawthorn’s deposition appeared on the information-sharing app Reddit over the weekend. AVL Watchdoggotten a complete copy of the deposition, which was submitted in federal court in Orlando in combination with Cawthorn’s lawsuit against the insurance coverage carrier.

The legal representative’s questioning about the journey that ended in the crash likewise exposed that Cawthorn and his buddy, Ledford, had actually engaged in the hazardous practice of switching seats while driving on the highway, from the guest seat to the motorist’s seat and vice versa. There was no recommendation in the deposition that the two buddies were altering seats when their SUV crashed, and the state trooper reported no evidence that Ledford, the chauffeur, was impaired by alcohol or other substances.

Cawthorn said the two “changed positions” while the automobile was in motion “to save time.” Asked why, he associated it to being 18 when he, like others of that age, felt “invincible.”

“Today, recalling clearly, I see that there was some major issues with doing that.”

AVL Guard dogis a not-for-profit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Tom Fiedler is previous managing editor of The Miami Herald and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political press reporter. He lives in Asheville. Contact us at This e-mail address is being safeguarded from spambots. You need JavaScript allowed to view it.


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