CA Dem Failed to Pay $175,000 in Taxes Despite Loaning Campaign More Than $250,000

T.J. Cox faces close race amid financial scrutiny

Former vice president Joe Biden and T.J. Cox / Getty Images
March 18, 2020

Embattled California Democrat Rep. T.J. Cox loaned his campaign more than $250,000 even as he failed to pay $175,000 in back taxes.

Weeks after the IRS filed liens against Cox in January showing $145,000 in unpaid federal income taxes for 2016 and 2017, the state of California hit the Democrat with a new lien listing an additional $30,000 in unpaid 2017 personal income tax. Even as he failed to pay his taxes in full, Cox loaned his campaign more than $250,000 from July 2017 to March 2018 while mounting his bid to oust former California Republican representative David Valadao.

Cox will again face Valadao in 2020 after defeating the then-incumbent by less than 1 point. Republicans are hopeful they can win the district back in November, pointing to Valadao's success in California's open primary, which advances the two candidates with the most votes to the general election regardless of party. Valadao received 53 percent of the vote to Cox's 36 percent in early March.

The Cox campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the January and March liens filed against Cox, the Democrat in 2017 paid $48,000 in unpaid income taxes dating back to 2015. Cox blamed the previous lien on the IRS.

"I have lived through basically bureaucratic incompetence," he said. "My check was stuck on the back of somebody else's payment."

Cox has also faced multiple liens against his businesses and was subject to a December lawsuit alleging fraud and failure to pay back $150,000 in loans. He dismissed the suit as "politically motivated."

Cox voted last week to block the Members of Congress Tax Liability and Garnishment Accountability Act of 2020, which would require members of Congress to report back taxes in their financial disclosures, garnish their wages to repay the debt, and hold their pay in escrow until liens are fulfilled. Following Cox’s vote, the Valadao campaign accused the Democrat of "using his vote in Congress to protect himself."