Cox resigns as AFGE president amid controversy

Federal union chief J. David Cox flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Photo credit: Chase Gunter/FCW) 

J. David Cox flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Photo credit: Chase Gunter/FCW)

FCW has learned that J. David Cox, the American Federation of Government Employee’s National President, resigned Feb. 28, amid allegations of misusing union funds and sexual harassment.

New allegations against Cox

AFGE member says ex-president abused her adult son for years. Read more.

Cox had been on a leave of absence since Oct. 27, after current and former employees alleged he had sexually harassed them. One former communications director said that on a business trip in April 2017, Cox had stuck his tongue in his ear and told him he loved him. Another former assistant said that Cox told him he should be more open to sex with men.

In a Feb. 28 email to members and employees obtained by FCW, current AFGE national secretary-treasurer Everett Kelley said that the resignation "concluded the processing" of charges of misusing union funds. Kelley added that "Cox has forfeited his right to hold or run for any AFGE elected office in perpetuity." The resignation does not bring an end to the probe of Cox's alleged harassment of staff members.

Kelley, who had stepped in as AFGE leader during Cox's leave of absence, will now assume the role of national president.

In December, FCW reported that Jim Davis, a former AFGE National Secretary Treasurer and member of AFGE Local 987, charged Cox with violating the union rules in using union resources to conduct his re-election campaign in 2018.

“Cox instructed AFGE Staff to assist in his campaign for re-election to the position of National President. Staff were instructed, but not limited to, creating and updating Cox's campaign website and to draft campaign literature and to not tell anyone they were doing it,” Davis wrote in a Nov. 15 letter to AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley.

At AFGE’s legislative conference on Feb. 10, Kelley told reporters that a former commissioner from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was conducting an investigation into the allegations that Cox had harassed former and current staffers.

AFGE represents 700,000 federal employees and is part of the AFL-CIO.

This story was updated with information from AFGE.

About the Author

Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.


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