Congress

Complaint says Rep. TJ Cox’s disclosures misled voters. He says it’s a GOP attack

Constituents say NRCC helped draft their complaint, but GOP group denies writing it

Rep. TJ Cox, D-Calif., is fending off accusations from constituents and the NRCC that he intentionally misled voters on his financial disclosure forms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of constituents from California’s 21st District are asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to review allegations that Rep. TJ Cox intentionally misled voters about his personal finances by failing to list certain business interests on his personal financial disclosure.

Cox, a Democrat, has dismissed the complaint as a partisan smear orchestrated by the National Republican Congressional Committee and a former staffer of David Valadao, the Republican he unseated last fall.

This story was first reported by The Fresno Bee.

During the 2018 cycle, Cox failed to mark down his ties to multiple money-making entities on his congressional candidate financial disclosure forms.

Among those entities, according to a separate report from the newspaper, are a Canadian mining company whose board Cox serves on and multiple property development and equipment companies — some of which are now defunct, but still should have been listed on Cox’s candidate disclosures.

“At best, Representative Cox was grossly negligent in complying with the financial disclosure requirements and in failing to provide voters with complete and accurate information to make an informed selection of a candidate,” the signatories on the complaint wrote to the OCE in a letter last Friday. “At worst, Representative Cox willfully concealed accurate financial information regarding current ties and past legal issues.”

The OCE is an non-partisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct involving House staff and lawmakers and refers cases to the House Ethics Committee. The office has jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of a “law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct.”

A Cox campaign spokesman told the Bee in a statement earlier this week that the complaint was filed by a “disgruntled, partisan staffer” for Valadao, who lost his seat to Cox by 862 votes after leading on election night.

Cox is in the process of divesting from some of his business interests and updating his financial disclosure forms to more accurately reflect his current financial status, his staff told the Bee.

“Before his election to Congress, TJ Cox was involved with a variety of small businesses, helping create jobs in the Central Valley,” Steven D’Amico, a spokesman for Cox’s re-election campaign, said in a statement. “He is in the process of ensuring that all of his disclosure paperwork accurately reflects those past efforts and is in full compliance.”

The letter asked the OCE to review the allegations that Cox was “grossly negligent” or “willfully concealed” his financial interests on his disclosure forms. It was signed by six people: Cody and Rachel Bradley, Jorge and Judy Mendes, Judy Scott, and Tyler Beck.

Beck, who previously worked for Valadao but moved on to a different job before Cox jumped into the race against the former congressman, told the Bee the NRCC reached out to him, and he helped draft the complaint.

Another of the complaint’s signatories, Cody Bradley, confirmed to the Bee that the NRCC helped draft the language of the complaint.

But that is at odds with what the NRCC told the Bee.

A spokeswoman for the NRCC said that the group “did not write the complaint” against Cox but that they “applaud his constituents for their efforts to hold the congressman accountable.”

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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