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A Democrat running against Rep. Madison Cawthorn says the Republican congressman brought a knife to a school board meeting, a criminal misdemeanor under state law.
Cawthorn, who spoke at the Sept. 13 Henderson County Board of Education meeting criticizing a COVID-19 mask mandate, had the knife underneath his wheelchair, according to 11th District candidate Jay Carey. Cawthorn uses the wheelchair following a 2014 car accident.
"(Rep. Cawthorn) must have feared for his life, seeing as he brought a knife to the meeting," tweeted Carey of Hendersonville who was at the meeting and spoke in favor the mandate. The board voted 6-1 keep the mask requirement.
Carey, an Army combat veteran, posted pictures of what he said was the handle of the knife protruding from under the wheelchair.
More: Henderson school board keeps mask mandate; Cawthorn says 'king' Cooper ties board's hands
"I’m 100% certain it was a knife," he told the Citizen Times. "I was 20 years in the military. Attention to detail is my bread and butter and what kept me alive."
The Super PAC FireMadison.com posted a picture of the handle next to an image of a knife made by the Mills River company Microtech. The handle looks the same as Microtech's "SBD" knife.
Bringing a knife to an "educational property" is a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to North Carolina General Statute 14-269.2.
Carey said he was not interested in whether Cawthorn was charged with a crime but said he was concerned someone could take the knife which he said was easily accessible.
"I was thinking, 'Why are you bringing a knife to a school board meeting? There are children. There is no need for a weapon.'"
He said he spoke with a Henderson sheriff's deputy at the meeting but did not see the officer take any action.
Cawthorn spokesman Luke Ball did not respond to messages Sept. 14.
That was the same day Cawthorn planned to speak against a mask mandate at a school board meeting in Johnston County. Cawthorn has opposed mandates at several school boards inside his Western North Carolina district including Buncombe, and Henderson and Polk counties.
Johnston is outside the 11th District, 300 miles to the east.
FireMadison.com President David Wheeler said law enforcement should investigate the knife incident.
The Super PAC sent letters to Henderson Sheriff Lowell Griffin and Polk Sheriff Tim Wright. Cawthorn appeared at school board meetings in the counties on the same evening.
"Allowing a member of Congress to flout the laws of North Carolina should not be tolerated," Wheeler said.
Lowell and Wright did not respond to messages sent the evening of Sept. 14.
Cawthorn has staked out pro-gun positions and appears to have broken congressional rules about weapons, saying he was armed during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Guns are banned from the House's legislative space and adjacent areas. His spokesman at the time, Micah Bock, declined to say what kind of weapon the congressman had.
More: House members to face gun check after Rep. Cawthorn says he was armed during Capitol riot
On Feb. 13 Cawthorn was stopped while trying to board an airplane at Asheville Regional Airport with an unloaded gun in a carry-on bag. Cawthorn was not charged criminally but is expected to face a federal civil fine and the loss of any preferred boarding status.
Joel Burgess has lived in WNC for more than 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. He's written award-winning stories on topics ranging from gerrymandering to police use of force. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.
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