Politics

Rep. Cox Closes DC Office for ‘All-Staff’ Retreat

Constituents and callers pointed to voicemail; purpose, cost unknown

T.J. Cox / T.J. Cox for Congress, Facebook

California congressman T.J. Cox (D.) shut down his Capitol Hill office for two days last week to fly his staff to a small town in Fresno County for a retreat.

When combined with the Memorial Day holiday, the congressman's office was only open for two days that week as a result.

Signs were printed and posted outside the door to Cox's office while newspapers stacked up, and persons who called the phone to the D.C. office were met with a message directing them to leave a voicemail.

Questions from the Free Beacon to Cox about why the D.C. office had to be fully closed, what was accomplished on the retreat, as well as costs incurred, were not returned.

"TJ Cox needs to explain why he closed a taxpayer-funded office for multiple days that's sole purpose is to help CA-21 constituents," said Torunn Sinclair, a regional press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "The taxpayers pay for this office, and TJ's constituents deserve an explanation."

The freshman representative's first five months in office have been rocky.

In February, the City of Fresno released a scathing audit of a nonprofit for which Cox serves as treasurer, with the report citing several irregular loans to "corporate officers," and saying that the organization could not even balance its checkbook.

The nonprofit manages a small sports park in Fresno, and its president is a close friend of Cox.

He later told a Fresno television station that "no good deed goes unpunished," and that "I kind of just wish that they would just say ‘Thank you so much for what you've done,' right, to make this available to the city."

He has since separated himself from the nonprofit, but an investigation by the local district attorney is ongoing.

Also in February, Cox led a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on climate change in which minority Republicans seized control and then quickly adjourned because not enough Democratic members were in attendance to stop them.

"As Republicans exited the room, Cox quickly pivoted and shifted the proceeding to a Democratic-led forum — a gathering that allows the witnesses to speak but which lacks the weight of an official committee hearing," Politico reported.

In April, the largest paper in Cox's district, the Fresno Bee, published investigations revealing that the congressman had omitted some business ties from his 2017 and 2018 congressional disclosures that are required of candidates. The Bee also shed light on other tax and debt issues in his history.

Defending himself against the reports, Cox told Fresno station KSEE "What they forgot to tell you is, any of these things—and there wasn't any of them where—one, they were already shut down, had no assets or revenues. That's uh, that would've been a very pertinent piece of information."

The Beacon had previously asked Cox to provide more details on that muddy statement, but no such clarification was ever provided.

In May, the congressman's communications director left after only five months of service, according to that person's LinkedIn profile page.

The Beacon also reported that Cox's campaign committee spent $12,000 with a single D.C-based caterer just days after he was sworn into office in January and while the government was shutdown. Requests for comment from the Beacon about those expenses were also not returned.