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New Rep. Edwards puts out a call for unfinished business, launches 15-county tour

Congressman Chuck Edwards stands a podium gesticulating between the U.S. and NC flags.
Courtesy of Edwards
Congressman Chuck Edwards was sworn in at the Capitol in January 2023. This picture was taken in December 2022, according to Edward's Facebook page.

Freshman Republican Rep. Chuck Edwards is getting to work in Congress during his first month representing the 15 westernmost counties in North Carolina.

Edwards was sworn in following the contentious election of U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that took more than four days and 15 votes. House Republicans kicked off their agenda Monday with votes to change key House rules including a rule to allow only one member to call for a vote to remove the speaker. The changes also included a move to 72 hours of notice on an introduced bill.

While Edwards set up official Facebook and Twitter accounts to reflect his role, one key piece of housekeeping remains: catching up on constituent services.

This week, Edwards announced that former Rep. Madison Cawthorn did not transfer the official constituent casework to his staff.

The deadline for Cawthorn to sign over the database was Friday, December 23.

“Repeated attempts to reach Congressman Cawthorn and his staff were made over the past month, but no response or action was provided,” a press release from Edwards office states.

“I ask that anyone with any pending casework contact my office immediately,” Edwards said in a statement. “I would like to ensure that our veterans, the elderly, the infirm and others who need help get the full benefit of the services they are entitled to."

Politics expert Chris Cooper, head of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University, said this lack of transition doesn’t happen very often.

“I mean this is really disappointing,” Cooper said. “This is really the core of what members of Congress do. They perform constituency service. When people need something from the federal government, the office of their local member of Congress is the place that they go.”

Constituents who requested assistance from Cawthorn’s office on issues ranging from benefit services to immigration will need to reach out to Edwards’ office to restart the process.

“So this is really a sad ending to what was really a sad couple of years in Madison Cawthorn’s term in Congress,” Cooper said, referring to the string of scandals at the end of Cawthorn’s term including a House Ethics fine for promoting a “Let’s Go Brandon” bitcoin, two occasions when Cawthorn brought a gun to an airport, allegations of sexualmisconduct and other incidents.

Cawthorn recently announced a move to southwestern Florida where he purchased a $1.1 million housein August.

Rep. Edwards also announced Thursday that he will conduct a tour of all 15 counties in his district starting Monday, January 16 in Transylvania County at the MLK Day Celebration at Brevard College.

Find a link to Edwards contact information – and all the lawmakers representing Western North Carolina here.

Constituents living in North Carolina’s 11th district can call the district office at (828) 435-7310.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.