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.
The emails were released by the Interior Department to the committee as part of an unrelated oversight matter.
In a letter to the Interior Department calling for an ethics investigation into Cox’s actions, 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 Yosemite administrators.
Whether Cox received the passes or visited the park on Independence Day has not been confirmed.
“This is a meritless partisan attack by the Trump Administration and other desperate Republicans,” said Amanda Sands, campaign manager for TJ Cox for Congress