CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The congressman now representing North Carolina’s 11th district said this week that his predecessor and his staff have essentially ‘ghosted’ them on constituent casework, a crucial part of any congressional office and a vital part of any political transition process.
Rep. Chuck Edwards, a Republican in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, sent out a press release earlier this week, urging people to contact his office if they had unfinished casework.
The statement noted that they had made attempts and were even issued deadlines to get this vital casework. Still, they have not received a response from outgoing representative Madison Cawthorn or his staff.
This lack of casework means that Edwards may have to start from scratch.
The casework can range from requests to handle social security and Veterans Administration benefits, passport issues, and even getting enlistees into a military academy. Representatives often work to help citizens through any bureaucratic process to get problems resolved.
“Really, the most important thing you can do, to be this liaison between your citizens and your federal government — to drop the ball on that, it’s a dereliction of duty,” said Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University. “This can literally be the difference between putting food on the table or not.”
Michele Woodhouse, a former NC-11 Republican Party chair and a former Cawthorn opposing candidate in the primary, said there must be an issue with the documents.
“They (Cawthorn’s staff) don’t get to act unilaterally in that space,” said Woodhouse. “I guess the question is — are these files hanging out in Washington, D.C., and have yet to be transitioned to Congressman Edwards? Where’s the bottleneck? I think that’s what most people are hoping to uncover.”
Edwards’ press release noted, “The office of former Congressman Madison Cawthorn did not transfer official constituent casework.” The release added, “Due to this lack of information, Congressman Edwards and his staff have no way of knowing which constituents had ongoing casework or other outstanding federal issues. Repeated attempts to reach Congressman Cawthorn and his staff were made over the past month, but no response or action was provided. The deadline for Cawthorn to sign over the database was Friday, December 23, and House rules provide that the outgoing member must execute the transfer process.”
This poor transition comes from an eventful time for the one-term congressman. Cawthorn recently bought a house and has effectively moved to southwest Florida.
Cawthorn also has a court date for this week on charges of bringing a gun to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
Woodhouse is quick to say that she does not believe the issues surrounding the constituent casework involve Cawthorn himself but rather a problem within the system of government. However, it might likely be connected with Cawthorn, whether or not he had anything to do with the situation.
Cooper, however, is taking Edwards’s statement at face value.
“This is not a liberal keeping Madison Cawthorn down,” said Cooper. “This is a member of his own party who is ideologically in lockstep saying, ‘he’s just not doing his job.’”
Cawthorn has yet to respond to requests for comment from multiple media outlets. Cawthorn officially left his office last week.
While Edwards now represents NC-11, the district was re-drawn for the 2022 election and encompassed the far western part of North Carolina. Representative Virginia Foxx now represents areas near Charlotte that Cawthorn had — specifically, areas of Avery County.
Queen City News contacted both Edwards and Foxx for more information on the constituent casework issue. There has yet to be a response as of our deadline.