CNN Failed to Disclose Warren Town Hall Questioner Was Maxed-Out Donor

Morgan Cox III's question spurred Warren's viral zinger

October 14, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren's zinger at an LGBT town hall may have gone viral, but CNN failed to disclose that the questioner donated the federal maximum to her 2018 Massachusetts Senate campaign.

CNN's Chris Cuomo introduced Morgan Cox at the Thursday town hall as "the chair of the Human Rights Campaign board of directors" who was part of "a real estate investment firm in Dallas, Texas." Cox asked Warren what she would say if "a supporter approaches you and says, 'Senator, I'm old-fashioned and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman.'"

"Well, I'm going to assume it's a guy who said that and I'm going to say, 'Then just marry one woman. I'm cool with that,'" Warren said, before adding to uproarious laughter, "Assuming you can find one."

The CNN chyron described Cox as "Chair, Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors." It could have just as easily identified Cox as "Donor, Elizabeth Warren."

Cox's Twitter profile indicates that his full name is "Morgan W. Cox III" and he is a partner at the investment firm Marquis Group. The Marquis Group is located in Plano, Tex., part of the larger Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. FEC filings show that a "Morgan Cox III" from Plano, Tex., who listed his occupation as "investor" donated the legal maximum of $2,700 to Warren's Senate primary campaign in 2017, followed by two donations totaling $2,700 to her general election campaign the following year. Cox also donated $2,700 to the Elizabeth Warren Action Fund PAC.

Records show that a "Morgan W. Cox III" who donated to the Human Rights Campaign and listed his employer as the Marquis Group also donated to Democratic congressional candidates Gina Ortiz Jones (Tex.), Jennifer Wexton (Va.), Nancy Soderberg (Fla.), and Annie Craig (Minn.). There is no evidence Cox has donated to any other 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

The lack of disclosure comes after CNN was criticized in February for not disclosing the Democratic Party ties of town hall participants who asked harsh questions of outsider presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), including identifying the Baltimore County Democratic Party chairwoman as a "former biology professor." A CNN spokesperson admitted in a statement that they "should have more fully identified any political affiliations" in response to the February controversy.

CNN did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment about the Thursday town hall.