BREAKING: TJ Cox sought “preferential treatment,” pressured DOI to break ethics rules for his vacation to Yosemite
When you’re Congressman TJ Cox, there are two sets of rules: one for yourself and another for everybody else.
A blistering new report shows Congressman TJ Cox sought “preferential treatment” and improperly pressured the Department of the Interior to break longstanding ethics rules in order to get himself highly sought-after tickets to Yosemite National Park on July 4th.
Despite being warned multiple times that his request was against ethics rules, TJ Cox continued to pressure staff, before lying and changing his story to skip the line. The impropriety prompted TJ’s colleagues in Congress to now call for a full-investigation.
Rules for thee, but not for me. Kinda like how TJ skips paying his taxes while demanding his constituents pay even more.
In case you missed it…
As Democrats decried national park openings, one pushed to front of Yosemite’s line
The Washington Examiner
August 3, 2020
Worried about loose rules amid a surge in the coronavirus crisis, Democrats have urged the National Park Service to stop or slow the reopening of facilities, citing concerns about the safety of employees, visitors, and neighboring communities.
That is, except one: California Rep. TJ Cox, whose Fresno district is close to Yosemite National Park.
In emails shared by the Interior Department with the House Natural Resources Committee, Cox’s staff sought two vehicle passes of the 340 available to the public for July 4. When he was told he’d have to wait in line like others, he pushed for “preferential treatment” to get them, according to a letter calling for an Interior Department investigation.
According to the emails, which were shown to Secrets, Cox’s staff sought the two tickets but were denied on July 2. The emails included his personal email address in a cc, not his official House address.
“Due to the personal nature of this visit, we are unable to honor your request,” emailed Teresa Austin, deputy superintendent of Yosemite, which has imposed visiting restrictions.
In the emails, the National Park Service sought advice from ethics officials who noted that rules bar government officials from receiving favors such as passes. One exception is for official visits.
In his letter to the Interior Department calling for an investigation, Rep. Paul Gosar, the Arizona Republican who heads the House Western Caucus, said that park officials changed the request from personal to official after Cox called Austin.
Neither park officials nor Cox and his staff responded to an email for comment or confirmation that he and others used the tickets to enter the park on Independence Day.
The emails were released by the Interior Department to the committee as part of an unrelated oversight investigation.
Gosar in his letter indicated that he did talk to park officials.
“Subsequent telephone interviews with Yosemite Park Service staff indicate that Representative Cox’s call resulted in pressuring the National Park Service staff to change the request from personal to professional and grant him passes,” he wrote. “National Park Service staff indicate this was done due to his status as a member of the Natural Resources Committee and to film a video to accompany the Great American Outdoors Act. However, nowhere in any of Representative Cox’s official active media streams are pictures, video or professional recognition that he attended any events or visited Yosemite over the 4th of July.”
Cox did post a June photo of him at Yosemite promoting the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which he fought for.
Gosar’s letter to the Interior Department’s inspector general and solicitor was meant to draw attention to efforts by the Democratic Party’s leaders to keep parks closed while one sought special treatment.
“During this time of COVID when National Park Service employees are putting themselves on the front lines to keep our nation’s and local community’s recreational economy on track, we are thankful for all National Park Service personnel do for the people of our nation. It is unfortunate that situations like this arise where members of Congress appear to pressure National Park Service personnel into providing special access. Your efforts to provide this information, address these questions will help protect National Park Service personnel in the future from additional incidents and coercive pressure,” he wrote.