Rep. Madison Cawthorn tweeted Sept. 17 that he has been battling “significant medical complications” due to his accident and asked for prayers.
Cawthorn, a Henderson County Republican who represents the 11th congressional district encompassing most of Western North Carolina, was partially paralyzed in a car accident in 2014, and he uses a wheelchair.
“The last few days have been very challenging for me as I’ve battled significant medical complications related to my accident. The struggle is long-term and the slightest problem can become a major hurdle. My faith, friends, family, and constituents help me each day,” he first tweeted.
It was followed by another tweet implying that he was not in Washington D.C.:
“I ask for your prayer as I continue fighting this battle. God’s the ultimate physician, and He’s in control. I truly believe prayer makes the difference, and that’s why I’m asking for it now. I look forward to defeating this challenge and returning to Washington soon,” he wrote.
Responding to a Citizen Times request Sept. 18 on the representative’s condition and how long he would be unable to work, Cawthorn’s spokesperson Luke Ball said via text he had “no further details at this point.”
When further questioned if Cawthorn had COVID-19, he said the congressman did not.
“It is an ongoing medical challenge strictly related to his accident,” Ball said.
Cawthorn is not believed to have previously disclosed any ongoing major health issues that would preclude him from serving in his government role. As the Citizen Times previously reported, he was the only member of North Carolina’s congressional delegation who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and he has been an ardent protestor of mask mandates, including in schools.
More: Madison Cawthorn won’t be charged for knife at Henderson County school board meeting
The congressman has been embattled the past week after attending multiple school board meetings across the state, including in Henderson County, to protest mask mandates, while being armed with a large knife. The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office said it will not press charges against Cawthorn for bringing a weapon onto school property, which is a misdemeanor offense.
Cawthorn’s request for prayers on Twitter came one day before the Sept. 18 “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, a protest against what some are calling unfair treatment of those arrested at the Jan. 6 insurgency.
Cawthorn also posted the call for prayers on his Facebook or Instagram accounts. While some on Twitter offered their prayers to the freshman representative, others theorized he might have left Washington to distance himself from any possible violence.
“These are hateful and false accusations,” Ball said about those critical of the lawmaker.
“For political opponents to capitalize on Congressman Cawthorn’s personal medical concerns is a disgusting and shameful tactic. Congressman Cawthorn and his office remain focused on serving the constituents of NC-11 through this medical challenge,” Ball said via text.
Cawthorn has staked out pro-gun positions and appears to have broken congressional rules about weapons, saying he was armed during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
More: In Madison Cawthorn’s Franklin appearance, ‘bloodshed’ just 1 of many provocative comments
More: Pelosi, Cheney say Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s ‘bloodshed’ comments should be condemned
While speaking to a crowd Aug. 29 of Macon County Republicans, Cawthorn held a shotgun he was asked to sign, advised the crowd to begin stockpiling ammunition, and talked of “bloodshed” between Americans over unfavorable results in the 2020 election.
“If our election systems continue to be rigged, and continue to be stolen, it’s going to lead to one place, and it’s bloodshed,” he said. “And I will tell you, as much as I am willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there’s nothing that I would dread doing more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American.”
During that speech, Cawthorn also called rioters arrested in the fatal Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “political prisoners,” and talked about plans to “try and bust them out,” saying, “we are actively working on” plans for another similar protest in Washington. “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes your duty,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican critic of the far-right, condemned Cawthorn’s “bloodshed” comments.
The noon Justice for J6 rally was small and early reports showed media outnumbered early arriving attendees at the rally near the Capitol.
Both the House and Senate will be in session beginning next week.
Cawthorn plans to be in Washington to vote, Ball said.
Karen Chávez is Content Coach/Investigations Editor for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow on Twitter @KarenChavezACT