by Dr. Andy Jackson
Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, John Locke Foundation
Former Representative Madison Cawthorn did a disservice to his constituents on his way out of office.
New 11th District Congressman Chuck Edwards has had to issue a press release asking constituents with “outstanding or unfinished casework” to contact his office because former Congressman Madison Cawthorn failed to provide any information on those cases:
The office of former Congressman Madison Cawthorn did not transfer official constituent casework, which is standard practice for any legislative transition.
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.
That is par for the course for Cawthorn, who earned a reputation for poor constituent service during his term:
His constituents found him hard to reach; some of his district offices were often closed, requiring voters in his sprawling, mountainous district to travel far to get help.
Since his defeat in the May Republican primary, Cawthorn has reportedly been “nowhere to be found” in western North Carolina.
Of course, there is no contradiction between being a political firebrand and performing good constituent service. Former Senate Jesse Helms earned a reputation for “unwavering efforts” to help those who contacted his office:
JESSE HELMS mastered the art of constituent service. It wasn’t unusual for him to pick up the phone himself, call a civil servant at a Federal agency working on a particular piece of case work that was lingering unresolved, and directly ask for an answer himself…
Constituents knew they could turn to their home State Senator to solve their problems. Even if they disagreed with JESSE’s politics, they knew he would help them.
Helms’ example was a model for others in serving their constituents.
Unfortunately, it was a model Cawthorn did not emulate.