Anti-LGBT North Carolina congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, 25, delivered an urgent message to his supporters from a private border wall in Texas warning that American children are being kidnapped by “a large group of cartels” and then being sold on “the sex slave market.”
Cawthorn, according to a fact-check by the Citizen-Times, was echoing discredited child sex trafficking claims promoted by the extremist conspiracy theory movement.
The newspaper also notes that his video was shot at the border wall built by the crowdfunding campaign whose organizers, most notably former Trump-adviser Stephen Bannon, were charged last week with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors.
“Sure, there are children being human-trafficked across our border north into our country for sex slavery and many things that are unspeakable and terrible to think of,” he said.
“But what’s really going on is we are having a large group of cartels coming into our country, kidnapping our American children, and then taking them to sell them on a slave market, on the sex slave market,” Cawthorn claims while showing a screenshot of a website that does not match his claims.
Cawthorn, who was homeschooled and only completed one semester at college before dropping out because of bad grades, then went on to falsely state that “tens of thousands” of American children go missing missing “every year” because of Mexican drug cartels “like MS-13 coming into our country and doing harm.”
Cawthorn did not provide a source for his wild claims.
“Cawthorn did not provide the source of his information or respond to questions about why he went to the border wall some 1,500 miles from his district, who paid his expenses, or how he knew the organizers,” the Citizen-Times reports.
Polaris, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, said in a statement to AVL Watchdog it “has not seen a trend in reports that would suggest this is happening.”
“In the vast majority of cases of child sex trafficking we know about, the child knew the trafficker. The trafficker was a family member, family friend, or had formed a relationship with the child. … Children also often wind up in trafficking situations when they have run away from home and are easy prey for traffickers promising safety and shelter.”
Renewed attention to Cawthorn’s border wall lecture comes just days after he took to the stage of the Republican National Convention to deliver a blatantly false history lesson about his “favorite” founding father, James Madison.
“If you don’t think young people can change the world, then you just don’t know American history,” Cawthorn said. “George Washington was 21 when he received his first military commission. Abe Lincoln — 22 when he first ran for office. And my personal favorite, James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.”
James Madison, considered one of the country’s Founding Fathers, did not sign the Declaration of Independence. Washington was actually 20 at the time of his first commission, and Lincoln was 23 when he first ran for office, according to an NBC News fact check.
Cawthorn has also falsely stated that he had been accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy before a serious car crash left him in a wheelchair. It was later revealed that he’d actually been rejected from the academy prior to his accident.
He also faced increased scrutiny last week after multiple reports of unwanted sexual behavior. The allegations came to light following a social media post from a woman who shared her account of a date with Cawthorn six years ago.
Earlier this month, Cawthorn initially deleted an Instagram post of him on vacation visiting Adolf Hitler’s “Eagle Nest” headquarters, after his opponent attacked him over the photos.
In the post, Cawthorn referred to Hitler as “the führer”— which means “leader” in German — and called his trip to the Eagle’s Nest, one of Hitler’s homes in the Alps, a “bucket list” destination.
“Strange to hear so many laugh and share such a good time with my brother where only 79 years ago a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots,” Cawthrone wrote in 2017.