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11 voters challenge Cawthorn's reelection over alleged role in Jan. 6 attack

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., arrives on the House floor in the Capitol before being sworn in last year in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Bill Clark/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/249241984ae9ff7bad15ac65ffe50e79/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., arrives on the House floor in the Capitol before being sworn in last year in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Bill Clark/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Eleven North Carolina voters filed a complaint Monday against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, alleging he played a role in last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol that constitutionally bars him from a reelection bid.

Rep. Cawthorn, who ran at age 25, became the youngest member of the House last year, and currently represents North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, but he has filed to run in the newly created 13th Congressional District.

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The complaint against him was filed on behalf of 11 voters with the State Board of Elections.

Cawthorn violated a clause in the third section of the 14th Amendment, which states "No person shall be a ... Representative in Congress ... who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress ... to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same," the complaint obtained by The News & Observer alleges.

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The voters argued in the complaint that the clause was written to prevent former Confederate leaders from serving in Congress after the Civil War, and should also apply to current lawmakers who support former President Donald Trump's failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol delayed certification of the 2020 presidential race results, left five people dead, and injured 150 police officers. Four additional Capitol Police officers on duty that day have since died by suicide.

Cawthorn, who gave a speech at The Ellipse near the White House ahead of the insurrection, and others, including Trump, played a role that "led directly, intentionally, and foreseeably to the insurrectionists' violent assault on the Capitol," the complaint alleged.

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During the speech, Cawthorn made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and told the crowd "they are trying to silence your voice."

Along with Cawthorn and Trump, other rally speakers included Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who told the crowd to be ready to sacrifice their "blood" and "lives" to "do what it takes to fight for America," and Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who called for "trial by combat," the complaint noted.

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"As set forth in our complaint, the publicly available evidence, including Representative Cawthorn's own statements and reports that he or his office coordinated with the January 6 organizers, establish reasonable suspicion that Representative Cawthorn aided the insurrection, thereby disqualifying him from federal office," Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, and attorney for the voters, told The Hill.

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"Claiming to be fighting a battle for our Constitution, Cawthorn has engaged in blatant acts of insurrection," added John Wallace, another lawyer who filed the complaint, in The Hill report. "He must be held accountable for his actions which have threatened our democracy. Wisely, the Constitution provides a remedy for our protection. We seek here the imposition of that remedy."

James Exum, a Democrat and former N.C. Supreme Court chief justice, has backed the complaint, along with former Republican N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, a vocal critic of Trump and his allies like Cawthorn, the News & Observer noted.

Cawthorn tweeted in response: "Left wing activists are trying to stop me from fighting for You The People! ... I won't be stopped. Help me fight back!"

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Luke Ball, a spokesperson for Cawthorn, said the complaint would not distract him.

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"Over 245,000 patriots from Western North Carolina elected Congressman Cawthorn to serve them in Washington," Ball said in a statement to WLOS and The Hill. "A dozen activists who are comically misinterpreting and twisting the 14th amendment for political gain will not distract him from that service."

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