AlamogordoTownNews.com Otero County, New Mexico Commission votes NOT to fund Couy Griffin Defense

The Otero County Commission met in special session for 31 minutes Friday morning July 1st to discuss a motion presented by Couy Griffin for the county to pay his legal expenses in a lawsuit filed against him for his removal from office.

The decision was made after 30 minutes of Mr. Griffin pleading his case and comments from the public. Some public comments were a bit aggressive as was Mr. Griffin in defense of his action.

After 13 minutes of dialog, the motion to vote was attempted to be called for by the commission chairwoman Vickie Marquardt at the special meeting July 1.  She then allowed Mr. Griffin to continue to defend himself in dialog and allowed a few public comments.

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt then made the formal motion for a vote after 30 minutes of dialog and seconded by Commissioner Matherly.  The meeting adjourned after 31 minutes.

The proposal to fund Mr. Griffin defense failed based on concerns of violating New Mexico’s and the County’s own anti-donation clause. The New Mexico Anti-Donation Clause states that “neither the state nor any county, school district or municipality… shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.”

quo warranto lawsuit was filed by Marco White, Mark Mitchell and Leslie Lakind naming Griffin’s participation in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. as grounds for his removal from office.

A record of the motions of the lawsuit is found at

https://dockets.justia.com/docket/new-mexico/nmdce/1:2022cv00284/473159

The actual complaint document can be found at

On Jan. 17, 2021, Griffin was arrested on a federal trespassing charge for entering and remaining in a restricted building. He was found guilty and was sentenced June 17 to 14 days’ time served, $500 restitution, a $3,000 fine, community service and one year of supervised release.

In a statement to fellow Commissioners, he denied any connection to the riot.

“This lawsuit is to remove me from my capacity as county commissioner and prevent me from running for county commissioner, too on the basis that I was part of an insurrection in Washington, D.C. in which I haven’t been charged or convicted of anything of the sort,” Griffin said.

Commission Couy Griffin said he called the meeting after Otero County Attorney R.B. Nichols declined to give Griffin a public statement as to why Otero County could not provide Griffin with legal representation in the matter. 

Nichols said that “only the Otero County Commission can issue official County statements.”

“I can provide advice to the Commission on how they should do something, but an official County position comes from the county commission,” Nichols said.

Both the law firm of Mynatt Martínez Springer and the New Mexico Association on Counties advised against Otero County providing legal representation to Griffin, Nichols said.

Griffin’s legal issues are mounting as he is also in an ongoing legal battle over orders to register Cowboys for Trump, an organization he founded, as a political action committee. 

A jury trial in the criminal case against Griffin for his alleged failure to register Cowboys for Trump as a political action committee is scheduled to begin Sept. 19. In July 2020 an arbitrator chosen by Cowboys for Trump agreed with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver that Cowboys for Trump fell under the jurisdiction of the Campaign Reporting Act and should be registered as such. Griffin and the organization were ordered to file delinquent expenditure and contribution reports beginning in 2019 and to pay $7,800 in accrued fines.

Couy Griffin as a part of his statements today mentioned, “he too was disappointed in President Trump that he was not getting support from the president but would rather have support from the county.” He claimed he had been, “fed to the wolves, referred to several members of the public as tyrannical Marxist and condemned mass media for failure of support.” He said, “he respects the decisions of the County Commission and the courts and believes God is on his side.”

The commission adjourned without funding his lawsuit.

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Couy Griffin Guilty 1 Count, Acquitted on 1 Count

The elected New Mexico, Otero county commissioner and pro-Trump grass-roots group leader was convicted at bench trial by a Trump-appointed judge. He was acquitted of a second count of disorderly conduct

An elected Republican county commissioner representing  Otero County, New Mexico  posted a video on Facebook of himself on the inauguration stage within the barricaded perimeter of the Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6 riot that forced the evacuation of lawmakers meeting to certify Joe Biden’s election victory. Griffin, 48, turned down an offer to plead to a lesser charge and probation, waived a trial by jury and bet his freedom on a bench trial that started Monday before U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden of Washington.

The conviction gave the Justice Department its second victory at trial in the Capitol riot probe, affirming its decision to level misdemeanor charges punishable by up to one year in jail against hundreds of defendants. A jury earlier this month found a Texas militia movement recruiter, Guy Reffitt, guilty of five felonies, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and interfering with police in a riot.

Donald Trump who injured scores of police, ransacked Capitol offices and caused Congress to evacuate as it met to confirm the 2020 election results, Griffin was not accused of violence or entering the building — one of the few such defendants among more than 750 people federally charged in the Capitol siege investigation.

Defense attorneys David B. Smith and Nicholas D. Smith have said U.S. authorities targeted Griffin for prosecution based on his protected speech. McFadden rejected that contention, finding that Griffin’s alleged leadership role, more blatant conduct and position as an elected official might rationally merit different handling by prosecutors.

McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee, said video showed Griffin climbing over a stone wall marking the Capitol’s security perimeter, walking over other plastic mesh fencing and metal bicycle rack barriers that had been pushed down, and spending more than an hour on the front railing of the inaugural stage with a bullhorn.

The law requires that offenders act knowingly to disrupt a government proceeding. Griffin was recorded saying that he thought Vice President Mike Pence had already acted and that the certification was over at the time, McFadden said. Prosecutors said that Congress was only in recess and still in session to certify the election, and their evidence showed that members of the crowd around Griffin were chanting “Decertify!” even as their presence delayed Congress’s return to vote until that evening. However, McFadden found that although Griffin “could have thought business was still taking place, . . . the burden was on the government” to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judge set sentencing for June 17, after his attorney, Nicholas Smith, declined the judge’s offer to immediately sentence Griffin on Tuesday.

Upon Griffin’s return he faces two new lawsuits filed against him in New Mexico, one calling for his removal from office and one for campaign finance violations.

We requested a statement from Mr. Griffin and have not received one as yet. If he provides us commentary we will update the article upon receipt. 

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