State Supreme Court dismisses Couy Griffin appeal over removal from office

The New Mexico Supreme Court denied an appeal from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin in the case that removed him from office based on his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Griffin failed to file a statement of issues within 30 days of his notice of appeal. By state statute, this failure is grounds for the case’s dismissal. “This is an affirmation that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment can and should be enforced against all the January 6th insurrectionists who took an oath to defend the Constitution, whether they are current or former officeholders.

Otero County Sheriff David Black removes the microphone from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin during a heated exchange at the regular Otero County Commission meeting November 10, 2022.

Couy Griffin confronts DuBois over appointment, derails meeting

Former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin caused a fuss at the Otero County Commission meeting last week when his time at the public comment table became so heated, one of the sitting county commissioners plans to file a restraining order against Griffin. Griffin was unhappy that Stephanie DuBois, a Democrat, was appointed to his old seat after Griffin was removed from office based on the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause after his conviction related to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C.

“I’m going to have to do what I’m going to have to do,” DuBois said Monday. 

DuBois deemed Griffin’s rant as a verbal assault and is in the process of filing a restraining order against Griffin. “Couy Griffin, duly elected and legitimate county commissioner of District 2 as well as founder of Cowboys for Trump and I’d like to just start out by saying looking up here at you Stephanie (DuBois) in that seat is a total disgrace,” Griffin declared. 

Griffin said that he felt DuBois’ appointment was disgraceful because she has run for office in Otero County eight times including in last week’s election and has lost each time. DuBois interjected and Griffin said that “I’m talking right now.

Couy Griffin removed from Otero County Commission, barred from holding any future office

A Santa Fe state district court judge ordered on Tuesday that Couy Griffin be removed from office and disqualified from holding any other public office in the future because of his role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In his ruling, First Judicial District Court Judge Francis Mathew wrote that Griffin “shall be removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner effective immediately.” Mathew also wrote that Griffin is “constitutionally disqualified” from holding any office in the future. 

The decision is in response to a civil suit filed by a group of citizens against Griffin that argued the leader of Cowboys for Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by taking part in the effort last year to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election. Griffin, representing himself, argued during a bench trial last month that he could not be removed from office because Otero County voters elected him to office and further rejected a petition to remove him from office. But Mathew wrote that Griffin himself tried to overturn the people’s will on January 6, 2021.  

“The irony of Mr. Griffin’s argument that this court should refrain from applying the law and consider the will of the people in District Two of Otero County who retained him as a county commissioner against a recall effort as he attempts to defend his participation in an insurrection by a mob whose goal, by his own admission, was to set aside the results of a free, fair and lawful election by a majority of the people of the entire country (the will of the people) has not escaped this Court,” Mathew wrote. 

Griffin has long maintained that his presence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 was that of moral support and was protected by his right to free speech. But Mathew wrote that Griffin’s attempts to “sanitize his actions are without merit and contrary to the evidence produced by the Plaintiffs, bearing in mind that he produced no evidence himself in his own defense.”

“[Griffin’s] protestations and his characterizations of his actions and the events of January 6, 2021 are not credible and amounted to nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig.”

Mathew cited evidence and witness testimony from the plaintiffs that Griffin used inflammatory language and spent days encouraging supporters to show up at the Capitol to show that Griffin and Cowboys for Trump “played a key role” in mobilizing “efforts ahead of the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol.” Mathew went on to write that eyewitness testimony “confirms that Griffin’s attention seeking behavior energized the mob when violence had already been going on for hours.”

In now widespread footage of the January 6 insurrection, Griffin can be seen climbing a barricade that was turned on its side to gain access to a restricted area of the Capitol.

Otero County Commission denies Couy Griffin legal help in personal lawsuit

On Friday, the Otero County Commission voted against providing legal counsel for controversial Commissioner Couy Griffin. Griffin himself did not vote on the issue but the other two commissioners voted against approving county-provided legal representation for Griffin in a lawsuit against him filed in state district court.   

Griffin has gained national attention, first for leading an organization in support of former President Donald Trump called Cowboys for Trump. Griffin again gained national attention for climbing over barricades during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, an incident that would ultimately lead to a misdemeanor conviction of entering a federally restricted area. Griffin was acquitted of a disorderly conduct charge.

Facing removal from office, criminal charges, Otero County certifies election results

A controversy over certifying election results in Otero County that made national headlines ended quietly on Friday with a 2-1 vote in favor of certifying the results. 

Facing possible criminal charges and removal from office, Otero County Commissioners Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt voted to certify the county’s primary election results, while Commissioner Couy Griffin stayed true to his word and voted against certification. All are Republicans. Griffin, who hours before, was sentenced by a federal judge for being in an unauthorized area during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, said his reason for voting against the certification wasn’t “based on any evidence,” but instead his intuition. 

“It’s only based on my gut, my gut feeling, and my own intuition and that’s all I need to base my vote on the elections right there,” Griffin said. 

A breath later, Griffin criticized “the media” for ignoring facts that he said the commission had found that allegedly show state elections are fraudulent. 

“I still believe that our elections are fraudulent,” Griffin said. “I believe that we already have enough evidence to prove, to substantiate what the media keeps calling unsubstantiated.

State Supreme Court orders Otero County Commission to certify primary election results

The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered three county commissioners in southern New Mexico to comply with state law by certifying the county’s primary election results. 

After the three-member Otero County Commission refused to certify election results during a meeting on Monday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver filed a petition with the state’s high court asking justices to compel the county commission to follow state law and to do their ministerial duty. On Wednesday, the state supreme court granted the writ of mandamus and ordered the commissioners to “comply with the requirements set forth in [state law].”

The commission has until Friday to meet and certify the election or presumably face a contempt of court charge. 

Otero County Commission Chair Vickie Marquardt could not be reached for comment, but Commissioner Couy Griffin told NM Political Report that he plans to “hold the line.”

“What the state is trying to do to us by leveraging us, and taking control, essentially, of our commission board through the courts, I believe, is very unconstitutional and it’s an absolute disgrace.”

Griffin was found guilty earlier this year of illegally entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

State law requires that local governments certify election results within 10 days of an election and then send the results to state election officials for further certification. Until that process is completed, the election results are deemed unofficial and the winners of the primary election are not officially candidates. Holding up the certification process also means that Griffin’s colleague, Commissioner Gerald Matherly, who won his Republican primary race by 32 percentage points, is still not considered a general election candidate.

Federal judge: Cowboys for Trump must disclose donors

A Donald Trump-supporting political group run by a controversial New Mexico county commissioner must disclose its donors, a federal appeals court judge ruled Tuesday, affirming a lower court’s previous decision. The judge ruled in a case where Cowboys for Trump challenged the constitutionality of New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act, after the Secretary of State ordered the group to identify who funded the group. State Attorney General Hector Balderas heralded the decision. “All elected officials and dark money groups in this nation must follow election reporting requirements in order to protect the public interest, and no one is above the law,” he said. Cowboys for Trump is run by Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner who traveled throughout the country in support of former President Donald Trump.

Cowboys for Trump leader to remain in custody until trial

An Otero County Commissioner who also leads a pro-Trump organization will remain in federal custody ahead of his trial for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Couy Griffin, an outspoken and controversial supporter of Donald Trump, was arrested in January for entering a secure area on Jan. 6 when supporters of Trump overwhelmed police and took control of the U.S. Capitol when members of Congress were tasked with counting electoral votes. Trump and some Republicans alleged without evidence that the former president  lost the election because of voting irregularities.

Government argues Griffin should remain in detention ahead of trial because of ‘inflammatory, racist, and at least borderline threatening advocacy’

In a court filing on Tuesday, the federal government argued that Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin should remain in custody because of the danger he poses to the public, and “a disdain for legal authority.”

Griffin is the leader of the political group Cowboys for Trump, a pro-Donald Trump group that has led protests in New Mexico and in other states, sometimes with the participation of other Republican politicians, such as U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell (who recently deleted some social media posts and videos involving Griffin). Federal authorities arrested Griffin on Sunday over his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection where a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, overwhelming police and threatening the lives of the Vice President and members of Congress. Griffin is accused of unlawfully being inside the restricted area surrounding the U.S. Capitol. Griffin said, according to filings, that he was “caught up” in the crowd.

County commissioner arrested in D.C. over role in Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol

The FBI arrested Otero County commissioner Couy Griffin, who is also the leader of a pro-Donald Trump political group, over his alleged role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Griffin was arrested while in Washington D.C. on Sunday. An FBI affidavit quoted a video posted by Couy Griffin in which he said he intended to return to the U.S. Capitol. In the video, Griffin said Trump supporters could have a “2nd Amendment rally” on the steps of the building and continued, “if we do, then it’s gonna be a sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out of that building. But at the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it.”

The FBI said a video, now removed, posted to the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page (which remained online as of Sunday evening) showed Griffin within the restricted area.