Rep. Madison Cawthorn and his wife of 8 months, Cristina Cawthorn, are divorcing.
The outspoken Republican, who became the youngest member of Congress when he was elected in 2020, and his wife were married April 3 in an outdoor ceremony in North Carolina, taking their vows in front of a gigantic wooden cross.
Cawthorn, 26, called his marriage to Cristina, an Instagram fitness influencer, “the greatest honor, privilege and adventure of my life.” But now he says the pair will split because of “irreconcilable differences” and the challenges of political life.
“When my wife Cristina and I were engaged, I was not a member of Congress. I felt called to serve and we both agreed that I should run. Our victory was unprecedented, but overnight our lives changed. That change has been both hectic and difficult, it’s neither the pace nor the lifestyle we planned for,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter by his rep.
“From the outset, we committed to make things work, to fight for our marriage, and seek counsel for balancing the enormity of such a transition in life,” Cawthorn continued. “Together, we realized that balance was not attainable, and that we had irreconcilable differences between us. While it was an enormously difficult decision, Cristina and I have mutually decided to divorce. We ask for privacy as we work through this privately.”
A real estate investor before running for office, Cawthorn has been called a rising star of the Republican party but has also stirred up plenty of controversy since stepping into the political limelight, including for a racist campaign statement about Sen. Cory Booker and voting to overturn the 2020 election despite no evidence of widespread fraud.
A friend has also disputed Cawthorn’s claim that he was abandoned “to die in a fiery tomb” after being seriously injured as a passenger in a car crash that left him paralyzed when they were teenagers.
There have also been allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct made against Cawthorn by women who attended Patrick Henry College with him. Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn behaved in an aggressive, misogynistic or predatory manner while attending classes there. Cawthorn has previously denied ever doing anything sexually inappropriate.
The freshman lawmaker was elected to represent North Carolina’s 11th congressional district but will run in 2022 for a second term in the new 13th congressional district after the census added a seat to the state’s map.