Ex-Democratic Congressman TJ Cox Indicted for Campaign Contribution Fraud, Other Financial Crimes

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TJ Cox, who represented California’s 21st congressional district as a Democrat from 2019 to 2021, was indicted on 28 different counts of various federal financial crimes on Tuesday.

Cox defeated incumbent Republican David Valadao in the 2018 midterm elections before falling to Valadao in a 2020 rematch. The 59-year-old ex-congressman is accused of “15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, and one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud,” according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

In that same statement, the DOJ lays out the specifics of the charges against Cox, alleging that he “created unauthorized off-the-books bank accounts,” “diverted client and company money into those accounts through false representations, pretenses and promises,” “illicitly obtained over $1.7 million in diverted client payments and company loans and investments he solicited and then stole,” and “received mortgage loan funds from a lender for a property purchase by submitting multiple false representations to the lender.”

Additionally, Cox is accused of having fraudulently obtained a $1.5 million loan that he later defaulted on and having “perpetrated a scheme to fund and reimburse family members and associates for donations” to his 2018 campaign for the House of Representatives.

The wire fraud and money laundering charges carry a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, while the financial institution fraud and associated wire fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

In 2020, Democrats made Valadao’s business record a focus of their case against him, with one Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attack ad on Valadao criticizing him for his business’s bankruptcy filing, which occurred while Valadao was a congressman. Valadao prevailed over Cox despite the fact that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden bested Donald Trump by almost 11 points.

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