The campaign committee for newly-elected Democrat representative T.J Cox of California spent over $12,000 dollars with a single catering entity in Washington D.C., just days after he was sworn in as a freshman legislator and while the federal government was still shut down, according to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission.
The spending represented more than 20 percent of the committee's total expenditures for the entire first quarter ending in March.
The same FEC filings do not show any significant cluster of donations to Cox's campaign committee around the same time frame, suggesting that the event (or events) may not have been fundraisers.
All of the expenses, itemized on the filings as beginning on Jan. 8 and continuing to Jan. 10, were made with Michelin-recommended Ambar restaurant, "the first modern, international Balkan cuisine restaurant in DC."
The Cox congressional office did not directly address questions related to the spending from the Free Beacon.
The freshman lawmaker who represents part of California's San Joaquin Valley has recently been asked to account for numerous other dealings and issues in his past.
Recent reports from the largest paper in Cox's district, the Fresno Bee, have raised questions about his financial disclosures as well as other prior tax and business issues.
For example, Cox "failed to disclose several business interests during his most recent congressional candidacies, including the fact that he sits on the board of a for-profit Canadian mining company," according to one of the Bee reports.
Meanwhile, the Fresno County district attorney's office is investigating a nonprofit for which Cox had served as the treasurer, after an audit released this February by the city of Fresno raised numerous issues about the entity's accounting practices.
Documents from the first week of March show Cox severed his ties with the nonprofit, the Central Valley Community Sports Foundation, so Cox was still serving as treasurer at the time.
The same nonprofit also operates a community ice rink in the Fresno area, which was sued last week by two children who allege they were discriminated against because of their wheelchairs.
In a recent television interview with a Fresno TV station, Cox appeared to imply that some of the Bee‘s reporting might have arisen out of an "agenda" and suggested the reporting was "inaccurate."
Cox's victory in 2018 over incumbent Republican David Valadao was the last house race in the country to be decided, taking until December to finalize with a difference of less than 1,000 votes between the two candidates.