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House panel swiftly kills Hogan impeachment effort

Del. Dan Cox, R-Frederick and Carroll counties, shown on the opening day of the 2021 legislative session in Annapolis, had introduced a resolution of impeachment against Gov. Larry Hogan. A House committee killed the proposal Thursday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan will not face impeachment.

A House committee, in a unanimous voice vote Thursday morning, rejected a resolution containing articles of impeachment sponsored by Republican Del. Dan Cox.

“I guess this means it’s back to the QAnon ouija board,” Michael Ricci, a Hogan spokesman, said of Cox.

The QAnon conspiracy movement, according to the Associated press and others, claim former President Donald Trump is waging a secret battle against the “deep state” and a sect of powerful devil-worshipping pedophiles who dominate Hollywood, big business, the media and government.

Last year, Cox apologized in writing to legislative colleagues for calling Republican Vice President Mike Pence “a traitor” on the afternoon of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. He later deleted his Twitter account.

Cox, a vocal supporter of Trump, organized two buses of supporters to D.C. for that rally but has maintained he did not participate in the storming of the Capitol.

Trump later endorsed Cox’s 2022 campaign for governor.

Cox, who is also a candidate for his party’s nomination for governor in 2022, filed the resolution nearly a month ago.

The Republican accused  Hogan of “malfeasance in office, misuse of police power, violations of separation of powers, theft of the people’s liberty and property, deprivation of religious liberties of the people and abuse of power under false pretenses.”

Included in the litany of charges from Cox are complaints about the governor’s orders closing non-essential businesses early in the pandemic and setting capacity limits on businesses and churches.

Cox alleged Hogan overstepped his authority when the state health department limited the use of hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin. The drugs at times have been presented by some, including Trump, as cures, treatments and preventative treatments. Those claims remain unsubstantiated.

The delegate also charged that Hogan violated his oath of office by refusing to release communications with his coronavirus advisers and by using the encrypted application Wickr. The app allowed Hogan and his team to ensure the messages were deleted once read.

The messages “may have also included his unlawful decision to fly and bus into state, under cover of night, thousands of unvetted unlawful-entry foreign nationals, and then release them onto our streets, endangering the public safety and health,” Cox speculated in his resolution.

The resolution was never expected to clear the House Rules Committee. Some believed the committee might not hold a hearing. The vote followed limited testimony from Cox, a lawyer who represents Carroll and Frederick counties.

“I’m a Republican,” Cox told the committee.

“Party loyalty and personal affection and precedents of the past must fall before the the arbiter of men’s actions, the law itself. No man, not even the president of the United States is above the law,” Cox continued, quoting Hogan’s father’s 1974 statement regarding President Richard M. Nixon.

Cox’s attempt to rally support from his own party against its leader fell far short of the mark set by then Rep. Lawrence Hogan Sr. 

Cox’s testimony was held to a strict four-minute time limit by Committee Chair Anne Healey.

It was a member of Cox’s own party who then moved for the House Rules Committee to kill the resolution.

Del. Jason Buckel, leader of the House Republicans, said the issue Cox raised is “a political issue and not a legal issue worthy of impeachment.”

Further adding to the quixotic nature of Cox’s impeachment effort was an apparent lack of process for proceeding with an impeachment.

Changes made to the Maryland Constitution reinstating the office of the lieutenant governor also created a need for the General Assembly to pass a law establishing the method for impeaching a governor, according to a book on the Maryland Constitution written by current Court of Special Appeals Judge Dan Friedman.

The same issue existed in 2010 when then-Del. Don Dwyer, an Anne Arundel Republican, sought to impeach a number of public officials over support for same-sex marriage.