The Democrat-controlled Maryland General Assembly isn’t exactly packed with fans of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. But lawmakers needed only a couple of brief minutes, and nary a word of debate, to unanimously reject a Trump-backed delegate’s attempt to impeach him.
Del. Dan Cox, a Frederick County Republican who’s running for governor with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, accused Hogan in his impeachment resolution of a litany of crimes and misconduct, primarily in the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Cox had previously unsuccessfully sued to overturn Hogan’s restrictions and use of emergency powers.
Cox spent four minutes rattling off his case against Hogan — accusing the governor of unconstitutionally ruling by executive order, abusing his powers and trying to cover up his actions — before the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on Thursday morning.
No one on the bipartisan panel asked Cox any questions before its members summarily rejected Cox’s resolution on a voice vote.
Republican Minority Leader Jason Buckel of Allegany County made the motion to dismiss it. The former minority leader, Republican Del. Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County, quickly joined several other lawmakers in seconding Buckel.
“I do not feel that it meets the standards for impeachment that would exist under Maryland law and it would be unprecedented under the circumstances to proceed at this time,” said Buckel. “It is a political issue, not a legal issue worthy of impeachment.”
Cox, in addition to railing against Hogan’s coronavirus restrictions, also cited Hogan’s use of self-deleting text messages to communicate with top aides and the governor’s well-publicized $9 million purchase of defective South Korean COVID-19 tests. A number of Democratic lawmakers have sharply criticized Hogan over those same matters, which the governor maintains were all aboveboard, but weren’t interested in joining Cox’s impeachment pitch.
Cox did not immediately respond to emails from The Baltimore Sun on Thursday. Cox told The Washington Post that he expected the impeachment effort to fail but filed the resolution to stand up for Marylanders who suffered “the loss of their freedoms” under Hogan’s public health orders aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
A Hogan spokesman took a jab at Cox afterward, comparing the 47-year-old Republican delegate to QAnon, a group of Trump-backing conspiracy theorists.
“I guess this means it’s back to the QAnon Ouija board,” said Michael Ricci, the spokesman.
Hogan, a prominent critic of Trump from inside the Republican Party, has repeatedly dismissed and mocked Cox in response to criticism from the first-term delegate. Cox is an ardent Trump supporter and enthusiastically took part in the former president’s attempts to reverse the results of the 2020 election.