Madison Cawthorn is showing his age (and his ass, again). The 26-year-old congressman from North Carolina has been in office for just over a year, and has quickly made a name for himself in political circles—all for reasons unbecoming. Most recently, he decided that the best time to clean his gun would be in the middle of a virtual House Veterans Affairs Committee meeting.
On Wednesday, Newsweek reports, Cawthorn was part of a three-hour virtual meeting in which the dangers of burn pits were being discussed. But the political newbie lacked either the interest and/or the attention span to pay attention to the stories of veterans who were part of the hearing and testifying about the devastating health effects caused by being exposed to the many toxic chemicals found in these repositories, which includes everything from munitions to human waste.
In the middle of the meeting, with his camera on for any and all participants to see, Cawthorn could be seen giving his firearm a polish. He chose to do this while Jen Burch, an Air Force veteran who was stationed in Afghanistan, spoke about the dangers she and her fellow veterans face in being exposed to burn pits, and detailed her own breathing issues as a result of the exposure.
Cawthorn’s lack of interest in the proceedings did not go unnoticed. Lindsay Church, co-founder and executive director of Minority Veterans of America, was on the call and took a screen shot of the congressman’s artillery bath time session, which he posted to Twitter.
Imagine you showed up for a Zoom meeting and a colleague decided that was when he needed to clean his gun. Because that’s what happened today in a Congressional roundtable on toxic exposure. We’re better than this. pic.twitter.com/ePJGKdspfY
— Lindsay Church (@lkmchurch) January 20, 2022
John Feal, a 9/11 first responder who was on the call, had some harsh words for Cawthorn, whom he described as “immature” and “a child.” “He lacks common sense,” Feal told the Daily Beast. “I think the congressman was overcompensating for something that he lacks and feeling inadequate among the heroes on that call.”
Burn Pits 360 founder Rosie Lopez Torres wasn’t looking at Cawthorn while Burch was speaking, but told the Daily Beast that he seemed distracted at other times during the call. When she saw the screenshot of him during the meeting later, her first response was: “Oh wow.” Torres said that he showed “Total disregard and disrespect to America’s war fighters. He was so bored with the topic. Those that are sick and dying and the widows in his district should see how much he cares about the issue.”
Speaking to Task & Purpose, Burch herself noted that “Here we are taking time out of our day, including the representatives, to talk about a very important issue—a life or death issue for many veterans—and it’s like, ‘I’m sorry am I boring you? You’re not paying attention.’”