Dan Cox, the rightwinger who lost the Maryland governor’s race last year, has been telling the press that he doesn’t know who was behind a July 3 statement of candidacy in his name. He even said he alerted the Federal Election Commission to the matter.
It should be a short investigation: The person was the treasurer Cox had hired to do just that.
The Daily Beast has obtained emails and text messages that show Cox planned a congressional bid since at least mid-June. It would have been a quick comeback from the trouncing he received in 2022 from now Gov. Wes Moore, and given the attention and controversy Cox’s candidacy drew to that race, a follow-up House bid would have raised eyebrows across the state.
But it appears that, at least for now, Cox is foregoing that opportunity, even if he isn’t being upfront about it.
The emails, which were exchanged last month between Cox adviser Rory McShane and professional political accountant Tom Datwyler, show McShane took several steps on Cox’s behalf to set up the campaign committee. At one point, McShane gave the green light to an official “Dan Cox for Congress” online WinRed fundraising ad, which, as of this report, is still live.
The two men also agreed on when Datwyler should file the statement of candidacy and open the campaign. In a June 14 email, Datwyler told McShane that if the campaign were to submit the statement before July 1, that would also require a full quarterly report covering April through June 30.
“To avoid that we can raise $ starting now until the end of the quarter, but holding off on depositing until 10 days before the end of the quarter,” Datwyler wrote in the email.
“Perfect,” McShane replied, “we don’t want to file Q2. So get the WinRed up and we’ll start raising but not file until July 1.”
When Datywler sent the WinRed link the next day, McShane asked him to “switch out” the logo on the landing page with an updated design, which McShane attached to the email. (Cox did not raise any money, according to a person familiar with the matter.)
But when reporters contacted Cox after the FEC filing appeared recently, the election denier feigned disbelief.
Cox told Maryland Matters on July 3 that he didn’t know the story behind the filing, but claimed that he hadn’t ruled out a 2024 congressional run.
“We didn’t make a decision,” Cox told Maryland Matters on July 3, adding, “I’d like to know who did this.”
A text message from McShane to Datwyler the next morning reveals that not only had Cox apparently already made a decision—not to run—but that Datwyler hadn’t known about the change in plans. A source familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast that McShane had failed to relay the decision to Datwyler before the treasurer submitted the statement of candidacy. Datwyler only got that information on July 4, after Cox had already denounced the filing to reporters.
“Hey Tom—Need you to terminate Dan Cox’s committee, he’s decided he’s not running,” McShane wrote in the Independence Day message.
“Can do,” Datwyler replied.
But Cox was casting aspersions on the filing as recently as July 7, when The Frederick Post-News reported that Cox “had reported it to the FEC.”
None of the three men are strangers to political controversy.
Cox’s 2022 bid pulled national attention, most notably in the primary, when his candidacy got some help from an unexpected place.
Democratic groups, seeing an opportunity to retake the governor’s mansion from retiring GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, boosted Cox in the primary against moderate Kelly Schulz. It was part of a national Democratic strategy to seed elections with divisive, far-right Republicans who could turn off swing voters.
(Failed GOP Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano—also a Jan. 6 attendee—was another success story for the Democrats. Mastriano lost the general election to Democrat Josh Shapiro, and hired Cox as chief of staff to his state Senate office earlier this year.)
McShane’s company, McShane LLC, also has ties to attempts to overturn the 2020 election. In 2021, a former undercover political operative in Nevada implicated a McShane official in a plan to get Proud Boys to pressure ballot counters in that state, The Daily Beast reported. The company’s clients also include Arizona election denying GOP Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs.
Datwyler, for his part, runs a political accounting company that keeps the books for dozens of campaigns and federal political committees. Nearly 250 are listed as active this year, and the roster has its fair share of election deniers. (Longtime Republican operative Jeff Roe’s Axiom Strategies bought 9Seven last year.)
The Daily Beast sent a comment request to McShane and Cox, but did not receive a reply. A representative for Datwyler declined to comment.