It seems like a big deal, right? I’m writing this for all the non-lawyers who haven’t kept up with every minor detail of the January 6 investigations. (This is starting to get media coverage, so I want to post this here, too, so you all can get the full story. As you see below, I still need some help with this.)
This could get kind of long so feel free to skip ahead to your favorite part. First, is a short summary of the case. Second, I’ll tell you about myself and why I did this. Third, is the more detailed story of the case, including some actual evidence. Finally, if you need help falling asleep, I’ll link to a copy of the filed complaint.
Dan Cox is prohibited by law from becoming Governor of Maryland because of his participation in the January 6th insurrection. That “law” is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We all know that’s the highest law of the land.
I filed a complaint (lawsuit) against the Board of Elections to basically force them to follow the Constitution and kick Cox off the ballot.
Cox played stupid (treasonish) games on January 6th, here’s his stupid prize.
Who am I?
Seriously, a nobody.
I live out in the suburbs with my wife and two boys. We are introverts who mostly keep to ourselves, even before the pandemic. We have 1.5 good jobs between us. She was more blessed, career wise. She’s the Tom Brady putting the points on the scoreboard; I’m the Bill Belichick taking the lead managing everything else. I make some money by doing the most boring legal work you’ve never heard of.
Oh, yes, I’m something of a lawyer myself.
I haven’t done much with that degree I finally paid off, but I am still a member of the bar. That means it won’t cost me as much if I need to make some Good Trouble.
This qualifies as Good Trouble. I am calling the question: “Are you going to enforce the law against these guys or do they get away with it?”
When I saw the Board of Elections ducked the Cox issue and then looked up what they should have done, I came across a law that says any registered voter is allowed to challenge an error made by the Board. However, I had only 10 days to start something–-but I can definitely “Do Something!”
Can’t someone else do it? I asked around a bit, and no one appears to be pursuing this forcefully (maybe they’ll send a letter or put out another petition). This is an unprecedented and controversial case. I guess it scared off a lot of comfortable people who don’t want to rock the boat. It is understandable to be afraid to risk your career.
Maybe that’s why it takes a nobody to do this.
Part of being a nobody is not having much/any experience, so I am dealing with a huge helping of Impostor Syndrome. Ah, my friend anxiety is back with a vengeance this week. Those feelings invading my sleep are putting up a “STOP” sign, telling me to just do a blog post and let someone else take care of this.
How did I choose to be brave and push through that? Maybe I’ve finally figured out how to tap into the magic confidence of a mediocre white man. No, because as I write this I am hearing a tiny voice of self-awareness cringing about how much of this post is about me.
OK, here are three examples of inspiring bravery that I have thought about this week that have helped push me forward.
First, my sister-in-law stepped up to run for school board last year. She ran as a liberal in a red district in Connecticut. As you may remember, the crazies were out in force at the school board meetings last year. My sister-in-law waded into that despite having a serious medical condition. If she can do that, I should be ashamed not to speak up in my own way.
Second, my new Congressman Jamie Raskin. He lost his son the week before the insurrection. That would have broken me. I don’t think anyone would have blamed him if he retired immediately. He kept going and stepped up to lead Congress’s 2nd Trump impeachment. I never got a chance to meet Tommy, but I bet he would be pleased that his memory is helping to strengthen the spine of the Democratic Party.
Third, every morning I drop my son off at Rosa Parks Middle School. It’s a daily reminder that regular folks can muster the courage to help make a difference by doing something simple.
Even with all that inspiration, I was still wavering a bit. Then on Monday May 2nd news broke from the Supreme Court that reminded us that these are the times we need to speak up.
I know a lot of people who can’t speak up will be harmed if the insurrectionists are not held accountable. Therefore, my unique opportunity to be heard like this is a privilege and a duty. I’d be ashamed if I said nothing and the worst happened.
I drafted and filed my complaint in court. It may not be effective, but I had my say.
Here’s what I said.
Why Dan Cox Should Be Removed from the Ballot
Trump didn’t like the outcome of the 2020 election. The law gives candidates a chance to prove something went seriously wrong. The deadline for proving it was December 14th. His team failed in court. So, on December 14th, in every state the results were certified and the Electors cast their votes.
Trump had his chance to lawfully overturn the election results. He failed.
So he turned to backup plans to unlawfully overturn the results. One of those plans was sending thousands of supporters to surround the Capitol building on January 6 to coerce Vice President Mike Pence into doing something illegal: refusing to announce the count of the electoral votes, or alternatively to delay the count so there would be more time for some other unlawful hare-brained scheme to be attempted.
Sending a herd of supporters to overturn the results of a lawful election is essentially an attempt to overthrow the government. It is an illegal disruption of the orderly, peaceful transfer of power. That’s the part of the insurrection we saw that day.
What did Dan Cox do?
Let’s try an analogy. Remember The Lion King? The villain, Scar, has a plan to overthrow King Mufasa by sending a herd of wildebeest to stampede and trample Mufasa and his heir, Simba.
Scar’s minions were the hyenas. The hyenas’ job was to gather the herd and cause the stampede.
Dan Cox was like one of the hyenas, but not one that actually spoke in the movie, just one of the hundreds of hyenas in the background. Scar probably didn’t know his name.
This nameless background hyena who gathered dozens of wildebeest–granted, some may have wandered off before the big stampede–was still a contributing member of the Scar insurrection.
Likewise, the January 6th insurrection was carried out not with bullets, but with bodies. Cox gathered and delivered many of those bodies.
On January 1st, Cox recruited his Twitter followers “I am co-hosting two buses to the Million MAGA March/Rally with the Frederick County Conservative Club in support of President Trump @realDonaldTrump on January 6, 2021 to #StoptheSteal … JOIN US here:”
There’s a lot in that one Tweet that is important to this case.
First: “co-hosting” indicates Cox helping organize or sponsor the rides. He is not simply giving a link to FCCC’s event. He is co-hosting..
Second: “two buses” indicates Cox and FCCC are providing “aid or comfort” to the insurrection. Any of you who have driven into DC or taken the Metro on a huge event day know that a nice bus ride is definitely more comfortable. They ended up filling 3 buses that day.
Third: “#StoptheSteal.” We know what this means. They think “the steal” is Biden winning the election.
By January 1st, as discussed above, it’s too late to lawfully “stop” the outcome. They had their chance back in December. It was over. What #StoptheSteal advocates at this point in time is illegal action (what they wanted Pence to do). That has significance for the 1st Amendment arguments that might come up later.
An article in The Tentacle on January 12, 2021, entitled, “First Hand Account Of The Rally In Washington, D.C., On January 6, 2021,” written by one of Cox’s co-organizers, Fred Propheter, president of the FCCC, says Cox helped assemble a group of 150 people on 3 buses.
If those 150 simply showed up to Trump’s speech near the White House, then immediately after the speech just got back on their buses and rode back to Frederick, that would be perfectly legal and I wouldn’t have bothered doing all this. They did more than attend the speech.
A January 8, 2021 article in Maryland Matters quoted Cox’s claims about his group’s participation.
On Wednesday our group from Frederick was at the Washington Monument for the President’s speech in the frigid weather for hours and had trouble hearing as the speakers were so far away, and because of the massive crowd size could not approach the capitol, our group left early for the bus ride home and of course did not participate in any violence.
Cox’s group did, in fact, approach the Capitol. His co-organizer, Propheter, says they went further:
2pm it starts. Agitators rocking the barricades, encouraging those around them. Trumpians getting excited, caught up in the mob mentality. The Capitol Hill police move in and start hosing the frontline with tear gas, dropping concussion grenades and firing rubber bullets. At that point I am calling my bus captains to gather their crews and start the 19 block walk to the designated pick-up area. Forty-five minutes later we are all back on our designated busses, relatively unscathed. A few were close enough to get hit with tear-gas, a couple more had their ears rung by the concussion grenades and 2 got hit by stray rubber bullets.
Propheter admits that Cox helped assemble a group of 150 people on 3 buses, that they participated in the non-permitted march to the Capitol, and they got close enough to engage with Capitol Police.
There’s also proof that counters Cox’s statement that they “could not approach the capitol.” There are videos showing that some people who rode with Cox’s group unlawfully entered a restricted area of the Capitol Grounds. This is the area between the first level of barricades and the steps leading up to the Capitol building entrance. The Department of Justice has already charged people for being in this area–not inside the building, but inside this restricted area of the Capitol Grounds.
As you know a lot of people there that day posted photos and videos of their little field trip. So–because apparently I have to do the Board’s job for them–I spent a few hours perusing Facebook to see what I could find.
I started with posts about the January 6th event on FCCC’s page. When someone commented I checked their page to see if they publicly posted any photos or videos from the 6th.
A comment on FCCC’s Facebook Page on December 22, 2020, indicates Christian Kendall purchased tickets to ride on one of the buses.
On January 6, 2021, Kendall posted a video on her personal Facebook page filmed at the bottom of the steps leading to the Capitol Building. The camera is a few feet back from a line of Capitol Police officers and barricades.
Kendall was in the restricted area of the Capitol grounds.
A comment on FCCC’s Facebook Page on January 1, 2021, indicates Michael David Wasiljov purchased a ticket to ride on one of the buses.
On January 6, 2021, Wasiljov posted several videos on his personal Facebook page showing the crowd in Washington that day and later his description of events.
Several of the videos were taken in the restricted area.
On January 9, 2021, the FCCC posted a lengthy statement on their Facebook page. Wasiljov posted a comment below that and FCCC responded “It was great having you with us Michael. We hope you decide to join us.”
On January 1, 2020, FCCC posted an announcement that they were adding a 3rd bus and selling more tickets. Sheri Griffith commented on this post with her friend’s name. (For those that don’t know, on Facebook, “tagging” your friends like this draws their attention to the post).
On January 6, 2021, Griffith posted several videos on her personal Facebook page showing the crowd in Washington. Two of the videos were taken from the restricted area near the line of Capitol Police officers and barricades at the base of the Capitol building.
Dan Cox helped recruit and deliver people who engaged in the same conduct as those that have already been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice. It is likely more of the 150 people in Cox’s group, possibly even Cox himself, trespassed on Capitol grounds, breached the building, or assaulted police.
I’m just one guy poking around Facebook for a few hours. Imagine what a full professional investigation would uncover. At a minimum, the Board of Elections should subpoena the list of names of the people on those buses and compare that to the list of people who have already been charged.
Why does this make Dan Cox ineligible to be governor?
It’s Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We all know that is supposed to be the highest law in the land. Here’s what it says.
No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But congress may by a vote of two thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Let’s walk through how that applies to Dan Cox.
- Governor of Maryland is an “office .. under any State.”
- Cox is a Maryland state delegate, so he already took an oath “as a member of [a] State legislature … to support the Constitution of the United States” well before January 6, 2021.
- As described above, just from what little we know now, Cox “engaged in insurrection or rebellion [against the United States] … or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
We see what happened on the 6th and we see what the Constitution says, now see what happened next.
How the Board of Elections (Our Secondary Villains) Tried to Duck the Issue
According to the State Board of Elections’ website, on September 29, 2021, Dan Cox filed to run for the Republican nomination for Governor of Maryland in the 2022 Election, and his candidacy was certified by the Board. The Board should have been aware of Cox’s participation on January 6th. It was widely reported at the time and again when Cox made his unofficial campaign announcement a few months later.
Linda Lamone, as Administrator, leads the Board of Elections and has done so for more than 20 years. The other members are William G. Voelp (R), Severn E. S. Miller, Esq. (R), T. Sky Woodward, Esq. (R), Malcolm L. Funn (D), and Justin A. Williams, Esq. (D).
It wasn’t until early 2022, that someone finally spoke up on this issue. On February 15, 2022, activist groups including Our Revolution organized a rally at the Board’s office in Annapolis. They delivered a letter asking the Board to investigate the Cox issue (“Holt Letter”). I am not a member of Our Revolution and did not attend that event.
A month later, March 16, 2022, Lamone offered a response letter (via email only to ONE PERSON) disingenuously ducking the issue.
The Lamone letter explained that the State Board declined to investigate “whether Delegate Dan Cox violated his oath of office. Under State law, the State Board of Elections does not have the authority to investigate this kind of complaint.”
The Holt Letter did not ask the Board to enforce a delegate’s oath. It asked the State Board to comply with its legal duty to prevent a candidate from appearing on the ballot if that candidate is ineligible to hold that office under the law, in this case the U.S. Constitution. This would have been obvious to Lamone and the Board. Their response was condescending and unprofessional.
There was no reporting that the Board responded on March 16. Since the February event, I would occasionally search the internet for updates. If there was one, it should have been covered.
On April 27, 2022, I tried checking the State Board’s website. I found out that a board meeting was scheduled that day and noticed a link to materials posted regarding that meeting. I discovered buried on page 71 of the materials file the Holt letter, with attachments, followed by the Lamone letter. That was the first time I became aware of the Lamone letter.
Assuming the Cox eligibility issue may have been on the State Board’s agenda for the meeting, I tuned in to the State Board’s live stream on YouTube to hear it discussed. The board completely ignored the issue during that meeting.
At that point I was convinced that the State Board was going to try to duck the issue. I was curious about what the Board was supposed to do so I looked into the state law governing the board. During that research I came across a provision that lets any registered voter challenge an act or omission of the Board in court. The catch: I must file within 10 days.
So I started drafting the complaint against the Board for failing to “ensure compliance with the requirements of [the Election Law] article and any applicable federal law by all persons involved in the elections process.”
That’s the case. The State Board does not get to ignore the Constitution. Dan Cox is ineligible under the 14th Amendment.
One last summary of what Cox did:
He wanted to #StoptheSteal, so he brought people to a speech, who then went on to the Capitol to coerce Pence to illegally overturn the election.
(I bet that seems familiar to you. If it doesn’t, read it again.)
Finally, here is a link to the filed complaint:
I don’t know how this is going to play out. It may just fizzle into nothing and be dismissed out of hand by the wrong judge. Perhaps, if I can bring on the right help, I’ll keep a disqualified insurrectionist off the ballot.
Again, in these times this unique opportunity to speak out is a privilege and a duty. If nothing else, I had my say.
I’ll close with two quotes. Time will tell which one will best fit this moment.
“Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
“Alright, time’s up, let’s do this…”
1. The Court did not dismiss this immediately. The judge wants a 2 hour hearing on the initial motions. It is supposed to be Friday afternoon.
2. I was able to reach the people handling the Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn 14th Amendment challenge cases. The Free Speech For People team declined to help with this case. Apparently, they are more interested in pursuing weaker cases against bigger names. It’s also possible that they really are too busy. Now that the Cawthorn case is moot, maybe someone else should put the Cox case on their radar. Hint, hint.
3. I have hired another attorney to take the lead on this case. He is a former DOJ prosecutor and Navy SEAL. That’s the good news. The bad news is, again, I am a nobody. I really don’t have the budget to pay him what he’s worth (even though he’s offering quite the patriotic discount). We are doing the Board of Election’s job for them in presenting the Cox case, but I am just some guy and I don’t have the resources of a state agency. I’ll take your suggestions on what you think is the best way to raise funds. I already stuck my neck out on this, I don’t really want my family to take on a big debt to do the Board’s job for them. Perhaps there’s another nonprofit group that could help take this on. I am afraid money may prevent me from seeing this out to its completion and perhaps setting some important precedents for the future.