U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn cited for gun at airport -police

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By Moira Warburton and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn has been cited by police for possessing a gun at an airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, the local police department said, adding to a string of controversies for the first-term lawmaker ahead of a contested primary election.

Cawthorn was "cooperative" with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers and the department "took possession of the firearm, which is normal procedure," the department said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration confirmed that agents had detected a firearm at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina on Tuesday morning, but declined to release passenger details.

The news was first reported by WSOC-TV in Charlotte, citing anonymous sources. Cawthorn's office did not return a request for comment.

Cawthorn, who is fighting to hold on to his North Carolina seat in the state's May 17 Republican primary, had been stopped in February 2021 for attempting to carry a gun through security at an airport in Asheville, North Carolina, but has not faced criminal charges for doing so. However, he faces criminal charges for driving with a revoked license and has racked up multiple speeding tickets.

"Second time. No more flying," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, said on Twitter in response to the news.

Though he has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, Cawthorn angered many fellow Republicans after calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy a "thug." He also claims to have witnessed cocaine use in Washington and to have been invited to sex parties.

State Senator Chuck Edwards leads the field of seven candidates looking to unseat Cawthorn. Edwards has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina. If no candidate receives 30%, a runoff will take place on July 26. The seat, based in the mountainous western part of the state, is considered safely Republican.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton and David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Andy Sullivan, Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)