Letter: Alumni who don’t support Cawthorn

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Madison Cawthorn’s campaign recently posted to its Facebook page that he’d been endorsed by a “significant number” of alumni and students of Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian school in Virginia with deep ties in the home schooling community. The campaign also name-dropped Michael Farris, the founder of PHC and the Home School Legal Defense Association. When pressed by alumni, the campaign released the names of six signatories, two of whom are working on his campaign.

Contrast this with the 150 students, former students and alumni of PHC who have signed an open letter denouncing Madison Cawthorn for his “gross misconduct towards our female peers, public misrepresentation of his past, disorderly conduct that was against the school’s student honor code, and self-admitted academic failings,” including that he “established a reputation of predatory behavior.” Further, an alumnus and personal friend of Farris’ confirmed via text that Farris did not and does not endorse Cawthorn. Finally, members of the alumni association confirmed that the association did not and does not endorse him.

PHC is not a liberal school. It has a strictly Christian statement of faith and honor code, draws the vast majority of its students from the home school community, has several alumni working in the White House and for the president’s reelection campaign, and Mark Meadows’s son graduated from it in 2014. But it is a small community — enrollment is between 275 and 325 any given year. One hundred fifty signatories are nearly 10% of everyone who has attended over the last 20 years, and I know about a quarter of them personally. Further, it is a community that believes character matters in leadership, and they have roundly denounced Cawthorn’s.

Cawthorn’s campaign has since edited the post, but we have saved the edit history and screenshots of alumni comments deleted by the page. It seems that his “endorsement” by Patrick Henry College students is about as real as his plans to attend a Naval Academy that rejected him before his accident, as he states himself in a 2017 deposition. As a Patrick Henry College alumnus and Army veteran, I can tell you that this is not the character of a leader or of a representative. Consider your vote wisely, and feel free to contact myself (nelsoncountywayside@gmail.com) or Giovanna Lastra (giovannamarial351@gmail.com) for further information.

— Colin Cutler
Greensboro
Patrick Henry College, Literature, 2011

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Cawthorn’s campaign for a response to the points in the letter but did not receive one by press time. An article by AVL Watchdog about the controversy, “Attack by Madison Cawthorn’s Schoolmates Goes Viral” (avl.mx/8n3) contains a response from Cawthorn’s campaign spokesman, John Hart, who described the allegations as “unsubstantiated and anonymous accusations.”

SHARE

Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

8 thoughts on “Letter: Alumni who don’t support Cawthorn

  1. NFB

    “a response from Cawthorn’s campaign spokesman, John Hart, who described the allegations as “unsubstantiated and anonymous accusations.”

    An open letter signed by 150 people are “anonymous accusations?”

  2. MEREDITH HUNT

    Looks like Cawthorne is getting Kavanaughed. Which is to say, the last minute attack is scarcely to be believed. And the motives, credibility, and interpretaions of the attackers and disseminators of it are suspect. Moe Davis has his own personality and character controversies. The most objective approach to this race is to vote on stated policy, and clearly, Davis loses.

    • Colin Cutler

      Greetings, Meredith! Colin Cutler here.

      First, he’s not being Kavanaughed (Swiftboated might be the nearest equivalent). The allegations, going back to Cawthorn’s time in high school homeschool groups, have been covered for a couple months now, including by conservative Christian media outlets.

      https://world.wng.org/…/rising_republican_star_faces…

      (The writer was a student at the same school at the same time)

      Second, none of us are working with Moe Davis, nor have any comment on his character or policies. Many of these students are Republican voters and/or activists (Full disclosure, I’m not, but I’m also not the one leading the charge on this, nor am I a District 11 voter).

      Third, I do not personally know him, nor was I a witness to the events (I had graduated several years prior, gone to grad school, and would have been deployed to Qatar or Romania when he attended). But I do know personally several of the women who have either endured sexual harassment from him, heard him call women “b****es” and “sl**s” when they rejected his advances, or whom he objected to when confronted without actually denying that he had done so.

      Fourth, when I penned this letter, I specifically avoided weighing in on the sexual assault/harassment allegations. Others have closer knowledge and have already written on that. What I focused on is the clear pattern of suggesting he was positively associated with organizations which would appeal to conservative voters (the Naval Academy, Michael Farris–the founder of Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, and the Patrick Henry College alumni community), when the record in fact shows the exact opposite.

      (Page 148, where he admits under oath that he had not been admitted to the Naval Academy, and that he knew this before his accident)
      https://www.scribd.com/…/2017-Madison-Cawthorn-deposition

      (Denial of endorsement by PHC Alumni Association)
      https://twitter.com/phcalumni/status/1319449219896410114

      Fifth, I showed up in person to his meet and greet at Taylor Ranch on Saturday and confronted him face-to-face on the discrepancies. His response? After a lot of sputtering, he said, “I don’t think we technically said they endorsed us.” Sure, except for the big word “*Endorsement*” at the top of his campaign’s Facebook post. I was then asked to leave, which I did.

      If you would like to read the original open letter, with its sources and original ten signatories, you are welcome to do so here.

      https://www.facebook.com/abby.e.osborne/posts/10219745252367910

      Again, if you have further questions, our emails are in the original letter.

      • Meredith Hunt

        Thank you for your well made reply. I would never make excuses for this sort of behavior. Not committing to an opinion as to what you say is true or not true, (and I have no reasons to doubt you, though I have them of others) I will say that if true, my hope is that he would repent of these sorts of things, and privately and sincerely ask the offended parties for forgiveness. This is what anyone should do, and given that would-be politicians will be put under an electron microscope, it would be politic to do this before contemplating a run. If Cawthorne wins, and I hope he does–I’m still voting for him–this should be his first order of business when the dust is settled. And if he loses, he still should take care of this. As far as giving the full rationale for voting for a deeply flawed character, that’s too much for me to write at present. In short, however, voting for a person and platform is also voting against another person and platform. As far as stretching the exact truth for the benefit of perceived associations and recommendations… I’ve not seen all the material in question, so I don’t know. If he did this–oops, caught–he needs to hire a better editor and PR writer. If, of course.

    • Lou

      Wow, you write as though you might be intelligent and thoughtful. Too bad you cannot use that skill for good, not evil.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    thankfully Madison did not attend this podunk school more than one semester. he did NOT graduate from there, therefore all their claims are
    awfully BOGUS !!! and WHO cares? no body…

  4. Lou

    I think it’s fitting too, to remind everyone that even though this entitled little brat Cawthorne, milking his wheelchair for sympathy, claims to want to promote unity but when he found out he beat Davis tweeted, “Cry more lib”. Real mature Madison, gawd I so much wanted someone in there who is an adult, who cares about others. He is not that.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.