As Dan Cox celebrated primary election night with supporters, the Republican nominee for governor is shown on a video accepting a gift from a man identifying himself as a member of the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group.
The video had been posted on the Cox campaign’s Vimeo site, along with other footage from the party at the Emmitsburg Ambulance Company hall. The Baltimore Banner obtained a copy of the 13-second video, which was first reported Friday by The Washington Post.
The video shows Cox approaching a young man, who holds out his hand and says: “How are you doing, sir?”
“Good,” Cox responds, shaking the young man’s hand.
“Here, this is a present from Maryland Proud Boys to you,” says the young man, who is wearing a black and yellow polo shirt similar to the Fred Perry shirts the Proud Boys wear. The young man hands a small item to Cox. As Cox looks at it, the young man says: “It’s a comb, a Proud Boys comb.”
“What’s your name?” Cox asks. The young man replies: “Henry.” The two shake hands again as Cox says: “Henry. Nice to meet you.”
The Cox campaign issued a statement claiming Cox did not understand who the young man was.
“In the noise of the victory celebration, it was hard to hear what was being said,” Cox said in the written statement. “I was surprised by him handing me something, and frankly, I did not even keep the comb. I had never seen him before, and I have not seen him since. I have no affiliation with anyone involved in violence on January 6th, period.”
The Proud Boys are designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country. The SPLC says group members promote white nationalist ideology and have appeared at “extremist gatherings” such as the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Proud Boys consider themselves to be “Western chauvinists,” according to the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. More than 80 Proud Boys members and sympathizers from 25 states and Washington, D.C., have been accused of “ideologically motivated” crimes in the U.S., including 54 charged in connection to the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the University of Maryland’s research.
The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore was quick to criticize Cox for accepting the gift.
“This video shows what we’ve known all along, Cox is a dangerous extremist that doesn’t belong anywhere near the governor’s office,” Moore campaign spokesman Carter Elliott IV said in a statement. “Cox proudly bused people to the Capitol insurrection on January 6th and now years later, he’s still proudly associated himself with these dangerous extremists.”
Cox’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that a mob overran the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results — have been scrutinized.
Cox advertised that he was “co-hosting” buses from Frederick to Washington, D.C., that day to attend then-President Donald J. Trump’s “stop the steal” speech and rally that day. For a time, Cox denied his involvement with the buses, even though he advertised the buses on social media ahead of Jan. 6.
Cox has maintained that he was not near the U.S. Capitol and left before the day turned violent. He posted on Twitter that afternoon that then-Vice President Mike Pence was “a traitor” for not halting the certification President Joe Biden’s electoral win over Trump.
The Maryland Democratic Party issued a statement condemning Cox.
“The fact that Dan Cox’s campaign drew support from the Proud Boys is troubling,” Democratic Party spokesman Ernest Bailey said in a statement. “Cox’s decision to embrace that support at the close of the Republican primary is disqualifying.”
The Maryland Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Voting by mail is already under way in the governor’s race, with a week’s worth of in-person early voting set to start on Thursday, followed by traditional Election Day on Nov. 8.
Cox has a significant fundraising disadvantage to Moore and has also trailed in polling by double digits.
This story has been updated regarding where those charged in connection to the U.S. Capitol breach are from.