Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn, the representative for Western North Carolina including Asheville and Buncombe County, has apparently vacated his Washington and district offices nearly two months before the end of his term.
Cawthorn, 27, failed to earn another two-year term after losing the spring primary to Chuck Edwards, a fellow Henderson County Republican. Edwards beat Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the Nov. 8 general election and will become the new 11th District member of Congress. But not until Jan. 3.
On Nov. 16, Cawthorn's Washington office no longer had his name posted outside and had been cleaned out. A call to the office reached a voicemail system inviting 11th District constituents to leave a message, saying a staff member would call them back.
In Hendersonville, the district office with Cawthorn's name and the House seal on the door and window was dark and locked. Rooms were empty of furniture and cleaning products could be seen on a counter. Calls to the Hendersonville and other district offices reached voicemail or were disconnected.
A message on the voicemail said the congressman was no longer accepting new requests for assistance "due to our office beginning to close for the term."
Cawthorn recently bought a $1.1 million house in Florida, but it still registered to vote in North Carolina, according to state records.
Until then, Cawthorn remains the district's representative, a role that normally includes helping constituents with problems with the federal agencies.
Cawthorn spokesperson Blake Harp did not respond to Nov. 16 questions including where constituents should go for assistance with veterans benefits, Social Security, late tax refunds or other issues.
In the primary, Cawthorn was hindered by scandals and missteps, including trying to bring a loaded gun through Charlotte airport security and claiming he was invited to an orgy in Washington and saw political leaders use cocaine.
But Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper said lack of constituent service could be even more problematic than the headline drawing gaffes.
"There are still (more than) 750,000 people in WNC whose primary connection to the federal government is Madison Cawthorn − a Rep who is apparently gone," Cooper tweeted. "Despite the attention over Cawthorn's antics, the effects of (lack of) representation on people's lives often gets lost."
Joel Burgess has lived in WNC for more than 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. Got a tip? Contact Burgess at firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-713-1095 or on Twitter @AVLreporter.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Madison Cawthorn empties offices weeks before end of House term