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'I Was Wrong,' Former Henderson Sheriff Drops Support For Cawthorn

Newly-elected Congressman Madison Cawthorn spoke in Sylva on the campaign trail.
Cory Vaillancourt
Newly-elected Congressman Madison Cawthorn spoke in Sylva on the campaign trail.

A key backer of Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn is now dropping his support following last week’s insurrection at the Capitol in D.C. 

Former Henderson County Sheriff George Erwin Jr. was going to be the District Director for newly-elected Congressman Madison Cawthorn. But after seeing his role in the insurrection last week at the Capitol, Erwin says Cawthorn no longer has his support.

“Once a word leaves your mouth you can’t take it back in. And you can either incite or you can calm with the words you use. And I have seen no calming words,” said Erwin.

Cawthorn spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally before insurrectionists stormed the halls of the Capitol building.

Here’s the full audio of his speech: Newly-elected Congressman Madson Cawthorn spoke at President Trump's rally before the crowd stormed the Capitol in an insurrection to stop the electoral college votes from being confirmed. This is his full speech via CSPAN.

Afterward, Cawthorn said that he did not support the violence.

Cawthorn has been no stranger to scandal throughout his campaign. He was accused of lying on multiple occasions, sexual misconduct, using white supremacist language among other issues.

Erwin says looking back – he was wrong to support Cawthorn and tell fellow law enforcement officers to do the same.

“I started to think okay, where there is some smoke there has got to be some fire here,” said Erwin.

He says he sees the people who brought weapons and bombs to the Capitol as domestic terrorists but that not everyone at the event falls into that category.

“There were a lot of good, great people that were up there for the right reasons but you can get a few people in a massive crowd like that and your words can incite them. And then you have what we call a mob mentality and other people can get caught up in it,” said Erwin.

Erwin, who was the sheriff for 12 years, says he believes in accountability. 

“You can’t talk about you support blue lives matter and support the blue when you are firing up people who are harming law enforcement officers,” said Erwin. A Capitol Police officer was killed during the insurrection.

Erwin says that overall, he thinks Cawthorn is mismanaging his office. For now, Erwin says he remains registered as a Republican. But that affiliation is something he will be looking at day-by-day.

Copyright 2021 BPR News. To see more, visit BPR News.

'I Was Wrong,' Former Henderson Sheriff Drops Support For Cawthorn

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first full-time reporter covering Western North Carolina.
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