A former district staff member for Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) is accusing him of improperly firing her after denying her family and medical leave, allegations the lawmaker and his office have vehemently denied.
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At one point during the call, Lisa Wiggins, who was a caseworker for the 26-year-old first-term representative in his district office for over a year, described that office as having “more liquor bottles than they do water bottles.”
“Cawthorn’s office insinuated that the allegations, made in a secretly recorded and released conversation with the head of an anti-Cawthorn PAC, were politically motivated, and hinted at potential counteraction by saying that they constitute “defamation of character.”
Wiggins unloaded about Cawthorn in a call with David Wheeler, the president of the anti-Cawthorn American Muckrakers PAC more commonly known as Fire Madison Cawthorn, accusing him of “denying me my FMLA” leave when her uncle died and her husband suffered a heart attack the same week,” The Hill reported.
“Wiggins did not know the call was being recorded, and Wheeler assured her that there was no way Cawthorn could know that they talked. North Carolina has a “one-party consent” state wiretapping law, allowing just one person who is party to a conversation to record it without the knowledge of the other party.
Wiggins, who was not ready to share her personal story and was shell-shocked at statements she made in confidence being made public, declined to elaborate on the accusations or confirm that a workplace complaint had been filed against Cawthorn when reached by The Hill on Monday.
But Wiggins did confirm that she is working for a GOP challenger to Cawthorn, retired Army Col. Rod Honeycutt. She started supporting Honeycutt’s campaign after Cawthorn had said he would run in a new adjacent district before switching back to the district encompassing most of his current western Appalachian territory.”
“It’s not as though I was just working for him against Cawthorn. Cawthorn was no longer going to be working in this district. And he also gave me blessing to do so when he left the district,” Wiggins told The Hill.
Wheeler said that the call took place last week on April 12. He released the audio from the conversation on the PAC’s website on Monday, and a report about it from local outlet Smoky Mountain News soon followed.
“I recorded it for my notes because I usually transcribe notes out, and she just kept going on and on. I realized I had a bombshell on my hands,” Wheeler told The Hill. “I just think it was in the public’s interest to hear this story.”
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