ANNAPOLIS — Len Foxwell, an Easton resident and the longtime chief of staff for Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, has left his position and will separate from the agency at the end of October, Franchot announced Monday, Oct. 5.
Foxwell served as Franchot's chief of staff for 12 years, since 2007. Emmanuel Welsh, who has served as the comptroller's deputy chief of staff since 2016, will fill in as acting chief of staff in place of Foxwell, according to a news release from Franchot's office.
Franchot's press secretary, Alan Brody, declined to say whether Foxwell's leaving was at Franchot's request or of Foxwell's own will. He also declined to say whether both parties were on board with the chief of staff departing.
Foxwell's exit from his post comes months after he elicited a barrage of criticism in April in response to Facebook posts in which he shared his take on U.S. President Donald Trump's supporters' resistance to health safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Foxwell wrote in a comment on April 13: “Let’s lure them into a big, big warehouse (we’ll call it something real classy to suit their refined sensibilities, like ‘America MAGA Platinum Palace’) with the promise of all the unfiltered Camels they can smoke, all the Salisbury steak and banana moonpies they can eat, washed down by all the Old Crow and Icehouse they can drink.
"Get them in, bar the door and then let Darwin work his magic,” he continued.
Republicans and conservative pundits quickly reacted and called for Foxwell's resignation after the post, which Foxwell later deleted on April 18 and bandaged with a note stating that he wrote the comment “in a typical spirit of sarcasm and jest.”
Despite the controversy and calls for Foxwell's resignation, Franchot came to his chief of staff's defense, writing on his own Facebook page on April 18: "I remain 100 percent supportive of Len Foxwell and the exceptional work he continues to do for me and for the people of Maryland.
"He is an exceptional public servant, a dear family friend, and I look forward to his continued service as my Chief of Staff for years to come,” the comptroller wrote in April.
Upon announcing Foxwell's separation from his office, Franchot thanked Foxwell for his years of "dedicated service and contributions." The comptroller said he wishes Foxwell "the best in his future endeavors."
Brody declined to say whether Foxwell's April social media controversy played a role in his ultimately cutting ties with the comptroller's office.
Franchot has begun campaigning as a Democrat to run for Maryland governor in 2022 when Gov. Larry Hogan's term expires. Many of Franchot's political opposers had used Foxwell's controversy and Franchot's defending him as a talking point against his campaign and to illustrate what some called Franchot's "masquerading as a moderate."
Brody said Tuesday, Oct. 6, the comptroller has not changed his political plans to run for governor. He did not indicate whether Franchot and Foxwell's split was a politically motivated development.
Connie Connolly contributed to this report.