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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Frederick delegate apologizes for tweet calling Pence ‘a traitor’

Del. Dan Cox may face House discipline for social media message

A Frederick County Delegate is apologizing for a social media message directed at Vice President Mike Pence sent as pro-President Donald Trump protesters rioted and stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Del. Dan Cox, in an email Tuesday, apologized for a now-deleted message on Twitter in which he wrote “Pence is a traitor.” Cox, in his email, expressed regret and called the message a “poor choice of words.”

“At no time was I calling his action ‘treason’ or ‘sedition’ which are legal terms of art,” Cox wrote in an email obtained by The Daily Record. “I intended the verbiage to convey a betrayal of us his voters and a deep disappointment. Also, I had no realizations of the gravity of the situation at the moment and my very small Twitter following had no intent to stir anything up, nor did I convey anything other than my sincere feeling of political betrayal. In fact, I didn’t post it anywhere else and have since deleted it.”

Cox posted his message on Twitter at 3:21 p.m. during the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. The delegate, in a statement last week to Maryland Matters, said that he attended the rally where the president spoke — and some are saying incited the mob violence —  and arranged for buses for his constituents to attend but did not participate in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Cox’s email was sent to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics as well as House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Del. Nic Kipke, the top Republican in the House.

Cox, who has since delated his Twitter account, was not immediately available for comment on the email.

“My emotion, as we were leaving on our bus, was that a promise the vice president had inferred to allow the electors to be validated appeared to have been completely betrayed,” Cox wrote. “I felt that was a constitutional matter which at least needed review and audit, but because of the vice president’s decision 75 million voters would not have the final review which had precedent in 1960 with Hawaii’s electors.”

It is not clear if Cox is the subject of a review by the legislative ethics panel. Such reviews are confidential by law unless the member is publicly reprimanded or expelled and then only the details in the committee’s report are made public. Members of the committee are prohibited from speaking on the work of the panel.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan, also a Republican, said Cox was likely the target of an effort to discipline him for the social media message. Cox last year unsuccessfully filed a legal challenge against Hogan on behalf of some businesses and churches in federal court claiming the governor’s executive orders limiting business operations and that the size of church gatherings was a violation of the Constitution.

“I don’t even know who Dan Cox is,” said Hogan. “I know he filed suit against us multiple times. He’s a QAnon conspiracy theorist who says crazy things every day. He called me a communist Chinese spy for China. He called the vice president a traitor. I don’t even know what makes him think this way but certainly he’s not the kind of person I’d vote to put in the legislature or support in any way, for anything. I think there may be a move in the legislature to censure him or take some action but I’m not really involved in that.”

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