UTAH, Oct. 8, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox’s former campaign manager Austin Cox is disputing sexual misconduct claims that were made public Thursday.
A statement on the Governor’s personal Twitter account, as opposed to his official government account, Thursday said: “Recently, a former campaign employee revealed to us that she believed she was the victim of sexual misconduct by our 2020 campaign manager Austin Cox (no relation). Following this discussion, we placed Austin on administrative leave and engaged an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation.”
The investigation, which concluded this week, substantiated the woman’s claims and also found “previously unreported hostile conduct towards select members of our team,” the statement said. Although the investigation found that there was cause for Austin Cox’s termination, he resigned from his position prior to its completion.
Attorneys for Austin Cox, Paul C. Burke and Skye Lazaro from Ray, Quinney and Nebeker said in a statement Friday: “We are deeply disappointed in the joint press release issued yesterday via Twitter by Governor Spencer Cox and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson. Twitter is a powerful forum for advancing political narratives, but it is not the truth.”
The attorneys’ statement added that the “personal relationship” in question was a long-term relationship between “two young single adults,” and that “the relationship was ended by our client earlier this year.”
“Our client unequivocally and empathetically denies any allegations to the contrary,” the statement added. “Our client has not had a fair opportunity to share his side of the story. We are confident that any truly fair and impartial investigation would fully vindicate our client from baseless allegations.”
Gov. Cox added in his statement Thursday: “I was devastated to learn of this violation of trust and deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. I have apologized to the victim of this misconduct and other campaign staffers who experienced this harmful work environment. I take full responsibility for the failure of the campaign’s policies and procedures to prevent this from happening. The Lt. Governor and I condemn this behavior in the strongest terms and will not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct. We will do everything possible to make sure this never happens again.”
Henderson added: “This brave woman brought her experiences to light despite tremendous risk and personal hardship. It took incredible courage for her to speak up. We hope that any other victim of sexual or workplace misconduct knows that they have advocates and allies in us.”
No other details were immediately provided.
Austin Cox posted a video to YouTube in April announcing his bid to be named vice chair of the Utah Republican Party. A website set up for the same purpose says of Cox: “Prior to serving Governor Cox, Austin worked both in the administration of Governor Gary Herbert, and for the 2016 Herbert for Governor campaign. Austin has a degree in political science and a minor in campaign management from the University of Utah. He was born in Utah County and is a lifelong Republican.” His bid was not successful.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is available.