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Ex-Congressman Madison Cawthorn reportedly in car wreck with Florida state trooper

Former NC Congressman Madison Cawthorn in Sylva at a Back the Blue Rally in 2020.
Lilly Knoepp
Former NC Congressman Madison Cawthorn in Sylva at a Back the Blue Rally in 2020.

Nearly 24 hours after a wreck in Florida, former North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn hasn’t spoken publicly about allegations that he was involved in a car crash with a state trooper.

Florida officials have confirmed the wreck but not the identity of the driver. A video from the scene of the wreck reportedly shows Cawthorn speaking with a Florida state trooper on the side of Interstate 75. A State Highway Patrol spokesperson told BPR on Tuesday the driver who crashed into the trooper's car was given a ticket.

The state trooper, officials said, had minor injuries from the collision, which happened Monday around 4:30 p.m., in Collier County.

On Monday night, a Twitter and TikTok user shared the video. It shows the aftermath of a wreck with a person in a wheelchair who looks similar to Cawthorn.

Alethea Shapiro, who shared the video, told Newsweek the wreck happened when Cawthorn rear-ended the trooper’s car. Shapiro said she pulled over and spoke to the trooper.

"I informed him of who the driver was and he confirmed it. I asked several times if he was sure he was OK and if he wanted me to stay and he said he was fine and thanked me for stopping," she told Newsweek.

"He asked if I witnessed the accident and I told him I did not but that I must have been 30 seconds behind.”

Shapiro identifies herself on social media as a social and racial justice activist.

Troopers identified the driver of the 2021 Mercedes involved in the wreck as a 28-year-old male from Cape Coral, according Florida Highway Patrol. However, Highway Patrol has not confirmed the identity of the person involved in the crash.

The Mercedes driver, a spokesperson said, was cited under Florida's "Move Over" law, which requires drivers to slow down or change lanes in certain situations. That law addresses emergency vehicles, like police cars or ambulances, and says drivers are required to move over or slow their speed when approaching an area where wreckers or construction crews are working. It's not clear exactly what situation was unfolding at the time of the wreck.

“The crash remains under investigation,” reads a statement by FHP spokesman Greg Bueno to the Miami New Times.

The state trooper sustained minor injuries and was transported to an area hospital.

In the same post with video footage, Shapiro claims Cawthorn had been tailgating her just before the collision. “I was driving on i75S towards Miami in the left lane and this black tinted sports car was tailgating me relentlessly. I accelerated ahead and moved to the right lane in front of a tractor trailer to let the car by,” she posted.

After the wreck, she says, “As I sat there processing it, it hit me... I think that's the same black car that was behind me."

This wouldn’t be Cawthorn’s first brush with the law.

In 2022, he was reported to have 12 traffic violations, with three taking place during his term in office. Cawthorn was elected in 2020 but lost his bid for re-election in the Republican primary.

Since Cawthorn started his political career, he’s has faced allegations of sexual harassment toward a former classmate and “sexually predatory behavior” at Patrick Henry College; claims of white supremacist sympathies and stolen valor; and bringing weapons to Asheville Airport and local schools.

Ina lawsuitfrom a former staffer, he’s accused of labor violations and during his time in office was fined $15,000 stemming from insider trading allegations surrounding his purchase of “Let’s Go Brandon” cryptocurrency.

Cawthorn also spoke at then-President Donald Trump’s Stop the Steal” rally preceding the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Former supporters such as former Henderson County Sheriff George Erwin Jr. declined the offer to be Cawthorn’s district manager after hearing his speech.

Just before the primary election, Cawthorn made headlines when he claimed that some of his colleagues invited him to orgies and used cocaine. This caused outrage on the national political stage and was seen by many as the final straw for Republicans who backed Cawthorn.

Soon after the allegations, a nude video of Cawthorn simulating a sex act with another man was leaked marking another decrease in support.

Current Congressman Chuck Edwards beat Cawthorn in the primary by just over 1,300 votes.

Since the loss, Cawthorn has moved from North Carolina to Florida. The Asheville Citizen Times reported that he purchased a $1.1 million dollar home in Cape Coral, Fla.

Cawthorn was among Trump’s friends and family at his Palm Beach home when Trump announced that he would be running for president again in 2024.

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.
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