Otero Commission chairwoman, Vickie Marquardt, expressed that “if they don’t vote to approve the certification they may be arrested”

The commission met in “special session” and in a vote of 2 to 1 with Couy Griffin calling in, the Otero County Commissioners certified the election.

A large audience was present with significant police presence as threats had come in against the commissioners. In the afternoon meeting, Republican County Commissioners Vickie Marquardt and Gerald Matherly voted to certify the results from the state’s June 7 primary over the objections of the third commissioner, Couy Griffin.

Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, spoke by phone from Washington, where he had been sentenced earlier Friday to 14 days in jail on one count of entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The commission chairwoman, Vickie Marquardt, expressed that if they don’t vote to approve the certification they may be arrested and the “Governor could appoint their replacements with would be s further dis-service to the community as they were elected with over 60% of the vote.” 

In his remarks, Griffin refused to back down from assertions that the machines were not secure or apologize for leading a charge against a normally straightforward procedural vote that caused a week-long uproar.

“My vote to remain a no isn’t based on any evidence, it’s not based on any facts, it’s only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition, and that’s all I need,” Griffin said.

The crowd rallied behind Couys phone call and speech but in the end the legal process as interpreted by the State Supreme Court prevailed.

The state’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, had said Friday that the commissioners “must comply with the rule of law” or face legal action and potentially be removed from office.

“I don’t want to let anybody down, I know there’s a lot of people who want us to stand our ground,” Marquardt said Friday. But, she said, “I don’t think it’s worth us getting removed from our seats to do that.”

Commissioners in a second county, Torrance, who had delayed certification earlier this week, voted to approve the vote totals in a contentious public hearing Friday morning.

Next steps is the state will now certify, the candidates will be on the November ballot that were clear winners and a recount of the GB Oliver, Amy Barella race will move forward to determine the clear winner. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin Given Light Slap on the Wrist as Sentence for Insurrection Participation

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was given a slight slap on the wrist for his participation in the January 6th events at the nation’s capital.

The founder of the “Cowboys for Trump” organization and commissioner of Otero County, New Mexico, Couy Griffin, was sentenced to 14 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, 60 hours of community service and a year of supervised release on Friday after being convicted of entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021.

Griffin, who has been in jail for 20 days, will receive credit for time served and will not have to serve additional time.

Griffin was found guilty in March of the misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. A federal judge acquitted him of another misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in a bench trial during which the judge, not a jury, renders the verdict.

Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that Griffin was guilty of the charge that arose from his illegal entry of U.S. Capitol grounds in the vicinity of then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Capitol building for the counting of the Electoral College votes and remained in the Capitol complex during the riot.

Griffin’s sentencing in Washington, D.C., is happening on the same day as New Mexico’s deadline to certify its election results, and currently, Otero County is refusing to certify, citing unspecified concerns about the Dominion voting machines used in the June 7 primary.

The secretary of state and the state Supreme Court have ordered Otero County’s commission to certify its results, and there is an emergency meeting of the commission today at 4pm, although it is not clear whether Griffin, who told CNN he would vote against certifying, will be back in New Mexico for the meeting or will be joining remotely?

Griffin was not accused of any act of physical violence or of entering the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, but of being present on restricted Capitol grounds cordoned off by law enforcement and closed to the public ahead of the election certification. He asked the judge to sentence him to no more than two months’ probation, which his lawyer argued was the average term for such an offense.

To the extent his presence there contributed to the distress of outnumbered law enforcement officers, he offers them his sincere apology,” the defense wrote in a prehearing filing, later adding, “No evidence, in any case, indicated that Griffin’s purpose in being in the area was driven by [Pence’s] presence specifically” at the Capitol.

Griffin, his attorneys argued, did not personally endanger Pence by his presence on Capitol grounds and should not be treated as if he had.

“Though he is of limited means, Griffin would seize an opportunity to offer assistance to injured officers and to contribute to the repair of physical damage to the Capitol. Griffin vows to never again enter a restricted area, at the Capitol or anywhere else,” the filing added.

Prosecutors, however, said Griffin should get 90 days in prison with credit for the 20 days in prison he has already served. The defendant was part of the mob that “succeeded in halting the Congressional certification,” according to a recent court filing.

Griffin remained on the Capitol grounds for over two hours while rioters engaged in acts of violence and property damage on the Capitol grounds,” the memo read.

The government contended that despite statements to the contrary, Griffin has shown a lack of remorse for his actions. Referring to the split ruling of one conviction and one acquittal rendered by McFadden, prosecutors noted that Griffin tweeted in the weeks after his trial and criticized the judge.

The 1 I lost I will appeal. We SHOULD have won a grand slam on both counts,” Griffin tweeted. “McFaddens PRE written response was pathetic! I wonder who wrote it??”

Prosecutors also allege he has used his legal fight as a way to raise money, asking for contributions to an online funding page.

Jail time, the government argued, was the only way to deter Griffin from acting in such a way again, a claim his legal team, countering, “The shame Griffin has experienced is itself a guarantee of deterrence.”

He was arrested in the weeks following the attack and held in pretrial detention before his legal team successfully won his court-ordered release. Griffin claimed he was innocent and argued he was unaware that Pence was still anywhere in the Capitol area. He did not testify in his own defense.

Griffin received credit for time previously served and will not have to serve additional time. Terms of his supervised release and community service will be released in subsequent articles.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Court Issued Writ of Mandamus, Commissioner Vickie Marquardt Responds, Prosecutor Adds to Couy Griffin Sentencing Dialog

The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus Wednesday against the Otero County Commission for certification of 2022 primary election returns.

During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”

Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”

The commission is meeting in special session on Friday; however, Couy Griffin is scheduled for a sentencing hearing in Federal Court in Washington DC for his role in the insurrection thus his attendance is in doubt.  Federal prosecutors are asking the court to consider the refusal to approve the vote canvass and the subsequent criminal referral to the NM attorney general as part of the sentencing considerations for Couy Griffin tomorrow.

During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results per legal interpretation of the Secretary of State and the New Mexico Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”

Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt Chairwoman of the Otero County Commission has issued a press release this afternoon stating her concerns with the election between GB Oliver and Amy Barela which is an 11-vote variance and will be forced into a recount if the election is certified. Per her press release she is now giving specific examples of what she believes to be election irregularities. The irregularities outlined however are not Dominion Machine Driven as outlined in commissions concerns but they have to do with voters who reside on properties without a dwelling so potentially fraudulent voting. Which indeed would be an issue but not the issue initially listed and solved by doing away with the voting machines. Fraudulent voting is a distinctly different issue than trust in a machine.  The story gets even more interesting and tomorrows special meeting of the commission is sure to be heated and entertaining. 

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt Chairwoman of the Otero County Commission’s press release is below…

Stay Tuned tomorrows Otero commission meeting will be entertaining in the dialog from all sides and the sentencing of Couy Griffin will both make national headlines. All eyes are again on Otero County from around the nation but not about prosperity, jobs creation and growth. All eyes are in Otero County with mixed emotions of unease questioning is the is precursor to what to expect with the November elections and what is in store for our nation of laws and a fragile democracy. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Political Candidates GB Oliver & Amy Barela Q & A Responses & Financials

The Republican primary race between GB Oliver and Amy Barela for the 2nd District County Commission primary is the most watched race in the county and appears to have the most buzz from near and far. 

If fundraising were the measure, Mr. Oliver seems to be leading with a campaign war chest to date of $13,963,76 verses $9476.79 for Amy Barela to date.

Links to their most recent filings are below, followed by responses to the Q & A survey of questions from AlamogordoTownNews.com

GB Oliver 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution: Robert Joe Pattillo $2000, Richard A Boss $1000, Kerry Eaton $1000, Aubrey Dunn $500, James J Klump $500 (All local donors)

Loans to Campaign: GB Oliver $6063

In Kind: Justus Photography 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $13963.76

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ 8,977.79

Amy Barela 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution Self 2,562.38, Committee to Elect James Townsend Barela, Amy A. (Amy For Otero) $1000, Dustin Collins & Michael Collins $1000 each (local donors)

In Kind Justus Photography $100 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $9,476.79

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ $2,172.17

In April before the race got heated and in full swing, we submitted questions to all the candidates in the various races. Mr. Oliver and Ms. Barela were thorough in their execution the questions and each are very serious in the campaign for office. Both are very visible to the public and both have very active campaigns with a field of volunteers working on their behalf and with a very active social media presence. Both candidates have a unique offering and a wealth of public service experience. The question for the voters seems to come down to what is the go forward vision for Otero County that best fits the future and which candidate best represents a path forward to securing that future. What follows is the responses to our questions. We appreciate their time and dedication to allowing the public to get to know them better.

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.

Amy Barela Response:” My name is Amy Barela, and I am running to be your county commissioner in this 2022 primary election. I am a conservative that has served this county in many voluntary capacities for over 12 years. Some things I have been able to do:

  •  Bring the National Day of Prayer back to Alamogordo and for the last 5 years we have done just that.
  •  I have helped to increase our voter turnout and voter registrations in Otero County by 10%.
  •  I stood with businesses to help keep their doors open when unfair mandates jeopardized their livelihoods as well as their employees.
  • Along with a team of dedicated individuals we worked to get the county commission to designate Otero County as a second amendment county. There were 625 people in attendance when the county commission passed this resolution……… unanimously.
  •  I fought the school boards and alerted parents to the indoctrination of their children with curriculum that is fully engulfed with (CRT) critical race theory, sex education and other radical teachings parents were not aware of.
  •  These are just some of the things I have been privileged to work on with many wonderful, energetic people. I would enjoy visiting with you to listen to your concerns about the issues.

While this seems about activism, I do this to educate the community and hope to give the community a voice in all matters and issues. I try to keep the community informed because it is important for everyone to have the facts to make educated decisions. There are many resources available to us. The number one resource being you. I listen and have listened to Otero County citizens for years. The people guide me in their needs now and as your commissioner I will continue to listen to your needs.

  •  Holloman AFB is vital to our community. However, we must not put all our eggs in one basket. We must look at other ways to bring solid businesses to employ citizens in our county.
  • I understand the forestry issues adding the dumping and trash problems.
  •  I will work to protect our mountains and forest through responsible use of the land. I know how to help citizens clean up their neighborhoods caused by illegal dumping.

I am excited to address the opportunity of the American Dream, home ownership, with new laws that have been changed to allow access from counties for funding. I also have a plan to incentivize volunteers at our fire departments to allow our law enforcement to get back to being law enforcement and not first responders. I have a plan. I want the best for our county. I need your prayers in this new venture and am excited to move Otero County forward. I need your support. I humbly ask for your vote June 7th.”

GB Oliver Response: “’I’ve held virtually every position that exists in banking, including sitting as a director on the Board of Western Bank.

I was one of 3 founding members of the Paragon Foundation, an organization that provided funding and attorneys in cases defending Property and Constitutional Issues. I was named the Executive Director of the Foundation and remain in that position. The Paragon Foundation grew to have thousands of members spread across the United States. I published a Nationally syndicated Magazine on behalf of the Foundation, The Cowboy Way, that was provided to membership, as well as sold in Walmart, Barns and Nobel, Hastings, Tractor Supply, and numerous other outlets. The Foundation also carried or was the major funder of three cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, Robbins vs. Willkie, Heller vs. D.C., and McDonald vs. Chicago. Heller and McDonald are considered today to be second amendment landmark cases.

Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Alamogordo Center of Commerce where I have played a key role in solvency of a permanent status of the 3rd and 4th F-16 Squadrons, expansion of hyper-sonic weapon testing at HAFB and bringing in a regional Jet Service. I have also been actively involved in bringing a host of new business, Hotels, and a 252-unit Apartment Complex that we will be announcing shortly.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed. If your office is judicial, please explain your judicial policies or view from the bench.

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “I have never held an elected office; however, I have been working hand and hand with Holloman leadership, acting as the liaison between Air Force and our elected officials in Washington to fund the expansion of the HAFB test track, expanding air space to assure the solvency of the F-16 mission as well has funding for state-of-the-art facilities for the MQ-9 mission. These endeavors have not only expanded the mission at Holloman but created many civilian jobs for this community.

I have also taken an active role in highlighting the NMDOD Stop Light Report regarding schools and have advocated for expansion of STEM, Career Tech, more school to work opportunities as well as higher standards.

Last year we secured 32 million dollars to be used for the design of the test track, this year we are seeking 138 million to begin construction on that facility. Those dollars will ensure that all hypersonic testing for the United States will be done at Holloman. We will be flying to Washington is the coming month to secure 58 million for the MQ-9 program and an additional 26 million through MILCON for taxi strip expansion.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off? If Judicial what ruling had the greatest impact on you when making it and why?

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “As mentioned previously, the Paragon Foundation had major investments in three cases that were heard by the United States Supreme Court. Those cases were Robin vs. Wilke in 2007, District of Columbia vs Heller in 2008, and McDonald vs Chicago in 2010. I had the privilege of sitting before the Supreme Court during the oral briefs in all three cases. These cases have directly protected Americans 2nd Amendment Rights. 

I also co-authored several pieces of legislations, not only in New Mexico, but Wyoming, Arizona, and South Dakota. The most notable was the Concealed Carry Bill for the State of New Mexico, which required three legislative sessions before passing both houses and being signed by Governor Johnson.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Why are you running for office?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response: “God has placed me in arenas my whole life that have developed my skill set to ultimately lead our community to a brighter future. My time in DC fighting for the rights of Americans has given me understanding of the intricate landscape of bureaucracy. DC is a terrible place, however learning how to navigate the architecture of the system has given me the edge to propel Otero County to a fighting chance to find prosperity.

Perhaps my greatest skill is being able to bring groups of people together, for a single purpose and vision. Our goal four years ago was to bring the City of Alamogordo, Otero County, the Alamogordo Public Schools and the leadership of Holloman Air Force Base together, meeting in the same room, at the same time, with a single focus. That had never happened in the history of this community and now it happens, here in the Center of Commerce, on a monthly basis.

This is my home and my family’s home for 125 years. It is where we raised our children, owned businesses, and have been allowed to live and associate with the finest people on this earth. It would be my greatest honor, and it is time for me to give back a small part of what this community has given my family.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is your vision for the office you seek?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response“We must be vigilant and proficient with spending taxpayer funds. A solid budget with growth factors is a must! We must expand and diversify our economic potential to GROW our way to a more fiscally responsible chapter.

Supporting our Sheriff’s Office is of utmost importance as we continue to see an uptick in crime and instability in our Judicial System. A strong emergency plan is a must. The more inflation creeps the more we need to rely on each other as a community to get through the upcoming economic crises. 

Protecting our Forest Land and water sheds with true intent. The Federal Government must be put on notice for the mismanagement of our Public Lands. This incompetence has impacted our water systems, cattle growers’ ability to maintain herds and a serious consequence for wildlife habitats and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Protect our historical and cultural backgrounds and capitalize on our strengths that we demonstrate in our community. We are unique and the rest of the Country can learn from us.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?

Amy Barela Response: “County Cleanup plan, road repair / development schedule, judicial complex issues to be complete or several stages through the implementation of, low-income housing 

development”

GB Oliver Response: “We have brought vision followed by action and accountability. We have brought high paying jobs, growth, educational prowess via alternative learning opportunities, a regional Jet service and now our community has seen the impact of solid leadership.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you visited New York Avenue and shopped or spoke in person with the shop owners of that business district? 

Amy Barela Response: “Last week”

GB Oliver Response: “I met with two business owners on New York Avenue, in their place of businesses on 5/11/2022.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What do you view as the biggest opportunity and how you can assist with that opportunity for business growth in the New York Avenue business corridor?

Amy Barela ResponseALamogordoTownNews.com note: NO RESPONSE ON THE QUESTIONARE to this question from Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “The attitudes of business owners on New York have improved dramatically over the last three years. That, in itself, opened the doors to the transition we are witnessing in our downtown. Now this community is taking that area seriously, traffic is increasing and that alone will not only bring other businesses and increased property values in that area. My family owned five business at one time on New York in the 1920’s and 30’s. It was the heart and soul of this community then…and has the potential to be that again.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program? Amy 

Amy Barela Response: “Before covid”

GB Oliver Response“2018” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?

Barela Response: “School Board Meetings. Often”

GB Oliver Response“In 2016 I was asked to address the returning teachers and staff for the Alamogordo Public Schools. This community learned a tough lesson regarding the quality of Public Education and its impact on the business community. The quality of our education system was one of the reasons given by the Under Secretary of the Air Force for not permanently bedding down the three F-16 Squadrons at Holloman. His quote was “we will not subject the children of the men and women at Holloman Air Force Base to a substandard education.” That is what brought the changes in our Public Schools and eventually led to a perinate bed down of the three F-16 squadrons.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center? 

Amy Barela Response“Often”

GB Oliver Response: “It was several months ago when I joined the Holloman Commander’s wives in a tour of the Flickinger.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Stood beside them during covid shutdowns to keep them open over big box stores. I am a job creator.”

GB Oliver Response“Everyday via the Center of Commerce…It’s what I do.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to improve upon the blight of abandoned homes and derelict businesses in Alamogordo or Otero County in the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Remove the junk cars”

GB Oliver Response: “The Center of Commerce, for the last year and a half, has made cleaning up this community one of our priorities and to engage with the City and County in that effort. Rodney Eaton led the initiative with several “Trash Pickups,” where 160 individuals gathered on a Saturday at various locations and the results were several tons of trash removed from our highways and streets. That has expanded into Otero County’s involvement, where their personal and equipment has joined these pickups. Our Sherriff participates by patrolling the highways to slow traffic during these pickups. The City of Alamogordo has now joined this movement by condemning and removing several structures in this community each month. In fact, the city has now budgeted money this year to completely rebuild Alameda Park, turning that facility into a beautiful park that we can all enjoy and be proud of. The lesson I take away from what has transpired in the last year and a half is that one man, Rodney Eaton, had a passion to change the optics of this community and because of the close relations we have fostered over the last four years with the City and County, we live in a cleaner environment.

We have several more of these clean ups scheduled and we invite you to participate!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Attend ribbon cuttings”

GB Oliver Response“Center of Commerce is the first interaction an incoming business has when coming into this community. At the present, I am working with two hotels, two Aerospace companies out of California, both associated with the development of the hypersonic program slated to come to the Test Track. We are entertaining three investment groups looking at apartment complex sites, that also includes the 252-unit complex mentioned previously, three restaurants, a major truck stop, an entertainment venue, and a major box store.

Housing is our highest priority and what is refreshing about the Apartment complex is that for the first time, this project has been made possible by the City of Alamogordo and Otero County working on different facets of this project to make is happen. That is a first!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Name the top 5 locally owned businesses that you believe best represent the image you would like to see of Alamogordo going forward.

Amy Barela ResponseAlamogordoTownNews.com this was left blank by Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “Not going there.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “They would certainly enhance the quality of life for those living here, however there are certainly higher priorities that need to be achieved to ensure their success.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What outreach have you done to build bridges of understanding and collaboration between people of color, the LBGTQ community and local government and the business community? 

Amy Barela Response: “That is everything I do often”

GB Oliver Response: “Most of my life has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for those living in our community. Color, culture, or sexual orientation plays no role in my world. We are all God’s creation, with certain needs, rights, and each deserves an equal opportunity. The rest is left to the courage and determination of the individual. To believe anyone, because of their color, culture, or sexual preference needs special status with government agencies is an insult to that individual’s integrity and God given gifts. I have never seen an individual, when given special status from government, that led a happier, more fulfilled life.” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: How are you funding your campaign?

Amy Barela Response: “Self and donations”

GB Oliver Response: “The majority is my money with a few local doners”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires more detailed annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?

Amy Barela Response: “I think the county needs to have a reporting form for each newly elected official to report any income that is received from county (ie business transactions). Campaign finance reports are filed with the SOS for anyone to review. I plan on closing my account after the election and do not see the need to fundraise during my term. I will reopen if running for re-election when time.”

GB Oliver Response: “Transparency is the only true method of moving our community forward”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “Absolutely, Government works best in sunlight.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support the growth of more bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues in Alamogordo’s New York Avenue area? What will you do personally to support growth and revitalization of the corridor?

Amy Barela Response: “Support any and all new business.”

GB Oliver Response:” Absolutely! In a healthy community, the original business district is always the heart and soul of activity. It should be the goal of every local governmental body to maintain and foster business there because it identifies not only who we were, but who we are. I have traveled all over the United States and when I see a community downtown business district, it tells me all I need to know about the trajectory of that community.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?

Amy Barela Response: “Building it to be a better place for my family.”

GB Oliver Response: “The economic opportunities that are coming to this community. Make no mistake, there is rough water ahead, but there is no community that I’m aware of, better positioned to recover and excel once we see the other side, than are we.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Can you work in a bi-partisan manner with the majority party to drive more state and federal funding into redevelopment and jobs creation into the district?

Amy Barela Response:” I didn’t realize redevelopment and job creation was partisan?”

GB Oliver Response: “I have demonstrated many times the importance of finding middle ground and promoting our goals in Otero County.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Rather a judicial candidate or other candidate what can you do in your role to help solve the issue of homelessness and mental health patients on the streets of Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Affordable home ownership, veteran home ownership, jail rehabilitation and work programs, address drug abundance and availability with enforcement.”

GB Oliver Response: “Working collectively with our local agencies to support and find solutions will be our best method of stability for those in need.”

At AlamogordoTownNews.com, we appreciate the candidates that took the time for thoughtful responses to inform and possibly serve the public. 

Early voting has begun, get to know your candidate and come on down to the county building and vote early and let your voice be heard.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Settlement Agreement Executed between EchoMail and Otero County

As thousands of travelers trapse the byways to come enjoy the beauty of Otero County and Alamogordo this weekend, and the spectacle of the Thunderbirds and other awesome displays of military pride at Holloman Airforce Base’s Air Show, the murmurs of spectacle also are running amuck around Couy Griffin and a planned Monday May 9th “Special Meeting” of the Otero County Commission. 

In a news article released by The Paper, Tierna Unruh-Enos is the publisher at The Paper.

In an article Published May 5th, 2022, at 2:27 pm it suggests that “EchoMail has canceled the contract with the county and finds NO Election Fraud.”

“The “audit” of the 2020 general election in Otero County is facing a setback. According to the Otero County Attorney RB Nichols, the software company EchoMail has canceled the contract with the county. EchoMail was given the contract by Otero County at the urging of a volunteer group of citizens called the New Mexico Audit Force. The group is led by former NMSU professor David Clements and his wife Erin Clements.

In January, the Otero County Commission approved an election audit contract of $49,750 with EchoMail. The EchoMail software has been used in other election audits such as the ones in Maricopa County, AZ, led by the Cyber Ninjas. Election officials in Maricopa disputed nearly every claim found in the audit.

Contract for Services Not Rendered

EchoMail received its first payment of $24,875 from Otero County in February per the terms of the contract. On March 17, the House Congressional Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Otero County audit and the EchoMail contract. That same day, EchoMail demanded that the balance of the contract be paid in full after turning in a 13-page document of charts and graphs with no actual analysis. The County disputed the claim, saying that they didn’t receive the services they paid for. On April 15, EchoMail returned $15,125 to the county and canceled the remainder of the contract.

Legal documents show that EchoMail contended that it had completed its contract and found no election fraud as a result of its services.

County Commissioner Couy Griffin has scheduled a special commission meeting on Monday, May 9 to discuss the audit — and to propose getting rid of voting machines in the county.”

Questionable Donations

Since the cancellation of the contract, New Mexico Audit Force has been left to its own devices to complete the audit and analysis on its own. They are not contracted by the county, nor are they a registered business in the state of New Mexico.

Couy Griffin has already gone on the defensive with a tweet to discredit the story and promising a spectacle at Monday’s Commission meeting.

In the meantime, the commission needs to tread lightly to prevent the county from having to expend taxpayer funds to defend its actions in hearings before the courts and or before Congress. 

As the Santa Fe New Mexican has reported, “Complaints of harassment and intimidation by volunteers going door to door in Otero County as part of a group that says it’s auditing the county’s 2020 presidential election results prompted Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas to issue a voter risk advisory”

Otero County is under investigation after spending $50,000 on election audit by various legal entities and may have to defend its actions in court or via fines.

In the US Congress the House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into a partisan ballot review in Otero County, New Mexico, where an “audit force” is going door to door and questioning voters.

The Committee is investigating whether the company’s audit and canvass in New Mexico illegally interferes with Americans’ right to vote by spreading disinformation about elections and intimidating voters,” House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, N.Y., and Jamie Raskin, Md., the chairman of the subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, wrote in a letter addressed to V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, the founder of EchoMail.

According to an article released today by Daily Beast; “The audit came under state and federal scrutiny after EchoMail’s CEO and allies were found to have promoted wild election conspiracy theories. But after a financial dispute with the county, EchoMail packed its bags up early.

“EchoMail fulfilled their obligations under the Contract and found No Election Fraud as a result of their services,” EchoMail’s attorney told The Daily Beast via email.”

All the rhetoric aside; the facts are that a Settlement Agreement has been executed between the County of Otero, New Mexico and EchoMail signed by the CEO of EchoMail and the County Chairperson of Otero County.

A Settlement Agreement has been executed by EchoMail and Otero County ending the relationship and with a demand for a refund for failing to deliver services agreed upon. 

A copy of the signed and executed settlement agreement is contained below…

https://agendasuite.org/iip/otero/file/getfile/23035

Let’s hope Monday’s Special Commission Meeting does not become the national news spectacle that it potentially could. 

Let’s hope rhetoric is kept at bay and the real spectacle reported is the results of a successful Air Show this weekend with 1000’s of happy shoppers spending many dollars in Otero County and contributing positively to growth and prosperity of this beautiful community. 

Let’s put our best foot forward daily, for a county that works together for mutual prosperity, and happiness, where positivity prevails, so too comes integrity in governance and in its people. 

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I’m interested

AlamogordoTownNews.com Judge Ellen Jessen Announces Candidacy and Meet the Candidate Events www.electjudgejessen.com

Judge Ellen Jessen declared her candidacy for the 12th Judicial District, Civil Division II on March 8, 2022. 

Judge Jessen has served as a civil Judge since July 2020, after being nominated by a bipartisan Judicial Selection Commission, made up of judges, attorneys, and members of the community. She is no stranger to the 12th
Judicial District, having served as a Domestic Relations Hearing Officer from 2017 to 2020. Previously in private practice in Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, she specialized in civil and domestic relations law. As an attorney for COPE from 2008 to 2012 she represented hundreds of clients in domestic violence, divorce, and parentage cases.

Judge Jessen credits her 25 years’ experience in civil and domestic relations law for Division II providing swift access to justice. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Catholic University of America and a degree in Business Administration from Wheeling Jesuit University. As for her philosophy, Judge Jessen says: “Swift access to justice is essential. Fair and impartial rulings are part of the fabric of our Constitution. It is my commitment to see that your rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, are protected and defended.”

The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 7, 2022. For further information on registering or updating to voter information, please contact www.NMVote.org. To learn more about Judge Jessen and her candidacy visit her website for “Views from the Bench and more at 

www.electjudgejessen.com 

To meet the candidate in person she has the following appearances scheduled…

Easter in the Park, April 16, Washington Park, 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

4th Friday at the Zoo, April 22, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Friday at the Zoo, May 27, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Earth Day, April 30, 10 – 6

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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AlamogordoTownNews.com: DC Court Case Begins, Additional Lawsuits File Against Couy Griffin in New Mexico

As the case commences in Washington DC, Monday 3/21/22 on Federal charges and Griffin decides not to ride up to the courthouse by horseback as discussed previously, two other lawsuits back home in New Mexico have been filed against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin…

New Mexico Court Case 1:

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin is now facing criminal charges in New Mexico. The “Cowboys for Trump” founder has been embroiled in a legal battle with the secretary of state since 2019 when she defined his group as a political committee.

That meant Cowboys for Trump had to register with the state and identify its major donors. Griffin sued, arguing that was a violation of his first amendment rights. A federal appeals court threw out his lawsuit.

Now, the New Mexico attorney general has filed a misdemeanor charge against Griffin for failing to register a political committee. 

The criminal complaint that was filed by the attorney general can be found here…

https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:4dd6abbc-469…

The AlamogordoTownNews.com staff contacted Couy Griffin for a comment on this pending case upon his return from Washington DC and his statement is as follows…

I’d like to say that if Hector Balderas was not a political hitman using his office to destroy political opponents he would be advocating for the extradition of Prince Andrew!! Prince Andrew traveled from England to New Mexico with the single objective to sexually abuse underage girls.”  Mr. Griffin continued, “Yet the Santa Fe Sheriff and New Mexico AG remain SILENT!!! Such a disgrace.”  Mr. Griffin concluded his comments with, “Absolutely print this. That POS Prince Andrew flew into our great state and sexually abused young girls who were under the age of consent. All orchestrated by Jeffrey Epstein at Zorro Ranch! The ranch formally owned by NM Governor Bruce King!!! But yet he abuses girls in our state and the Sheriff and AG let him walk?? And then the arrogant blue blooded a——  pays the girls so it shows the world if you have enough money and power you can get away with being a PEDOPHILE? America starves for justice. An no better place to state with the pervert uncle Andrew.”

New Mexico Court Case 2:  Lawsuit Filed to Remove Couy Griffin from Office

“Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin must be removed from office and disqualified from holding future public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution based on his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection”, according to a lawsuit filed today by a group of New Mexico residents. 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the New Mexico-based law firms of Freedman, Boyd, Hollander and Goldberg, P.A, Dodd Law Office, LLC and the Law Office of Amber Fayerberg, LLC serve as co-counsel on the case, which also seeks a court order declaring the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the events surrounding it an insurrection under the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” as an “officer of any State” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

Griffin has served as an Otero County Commissioner since January 2019. Upon taking office, he swore an oath to “support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of New Mexico, and the Constitution of the United States.,”  per the lawsuit filed. 

Link to complaint filed in the courts:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Griffin-Qu…

Exhibits filed against Couy Griffin in the second case per above:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Griffin-Qu…

WASHINGTON DC Update as of 6 pm Eastern Time

Meanwhile Couy Griffin’s federal trial began in Washington DC today. For the first time, a U.S. Secret Service agent testified publicly Monday about the underground loading dock where Vice President Mike Pence and his family were evacuated on Jan. 6.

The testimony came late in the day during the trial for Couy Griffin, a commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico, and the founder of “Cowboys for Trump” who was indicted on two misdemeanor counts in connection with the riot. Griffin chose to forgo a jury in favor of a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, which began Monday morning.

Though Griffin was charged with some of the least serious offenses among Capitol riot cases, the trial was an important test for how much the government may have to disclose to other defendants about former Vice President Mike Pence’s whereabouts on Jan. 6. Jurors in the first Jan. 6 trial of Guy Reffitt saw a brief video of Pence and his family being evacuated from a ceremonial office in the Senate Wing. But Griffin’s attorney, David Smith, pushed for far more information to be made public – arguing the vice president’s exact location at the time he entered Capitol grounds was critical to determining his guilt.

In a contentious back-and-forth, Smith asked Hawa about who decided on the security perimeter around the Capitol on Jan. 6 and whether the restricted area extended underground or would move with the vice president. After repeated objections from the DOJ, Smith angrily claimed prosecutors were attempting to stop him from asking legitimate questions — prompting assistant U.S. attorney Janani Iyengar to suggest they “bring the temperature down.”

McFadden upheld the DOJ’s objections and advised Smith to move on, telling him he’d failed to show Pence had left the restricted area — likely dooming that prong of his defense strategy.

Smith spent significant time developing a second prong, however, with the prosecution’s primary witness, Matthew Struck. Struck, a freelance videographer, traveled to D.C. with Griffin on Jan. 6. Under an immunity agreement, Struck provided the DOJ with dozens of videos of Griffin on Jan. 6, including many showing him on Capitol grounds. In one video, Griffin appeared to say Capitol Police had told members of the crowd not to enter the area being prepared for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. In another, Griffin could be heard saying things would become “less and less” peaceful if, as he believed, election laws continued not to be followed. He also lamented on multiple occasions that, “Mike Pence sold us out.”

But Struck’s testimony was far from the nail in the coffin prosecutors might have hoped. He downplayed Griffin’s involvement at the riot – saying he’d just been there to look for a place to pray – and repeatedly said he either couldn’t remember or couldn’t hear potentially inflammatory statements on video. Under cross-examination from Griffin’s attorney, Struck said Griffin told him Pence had already certified the election before they got to the Capitol – which, though not true, proved Griffin thought Pence had already left the building, Smith said.

Smith also focused in particular on questioning U.S. Capitol Police Inspector John Erickson, who the prosecution called to outline the restricted area on Jan. 6. Smith pressed Erickson on the exact contours of that area, how USCP handles Secret Service protectees and whether the Capitol Visitor’s Center was part of the building. Much of Smith’s questioning fell to objections from the DOJ, however, including a statement from another USCP officer he attempted to enter describing the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center – which is in the lower level of the Capitol – as being separate from the building. That would have been particularly helpful for Griffin, since, as Hawa testified, the vice president and his family were in the visitor’s center loading dock while Griffin was on the Capitol grounds.

Federal Court in DC ended for the day shortly before 6 p.m. with no resolution. McFadden called Hawa back for closing arguments Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Article is a collaborative sourced article with AlamogordoTownNews.com. WUSA9, Citizens for Responsible Ethics, US Department of Justice and Couy Griffin provided commentary.

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Governor Gavin Newsom (D), Commissioner Couy Griffin (R), 2 Peas of the Same Pod – Lessons on Recalls

The Lessons on Recalls; Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin – Similarities and Differences

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin Facing Recall with California Governor Gavin Newsom Surviving Recall (AlamogordoTownNews.com)

“Recall” is the mantra yelled by those not happy with the actions of politicians. Daily we hear recall the governor, recall the commissioner, recall, recall, recall. The threat of a recall can has consequences on an incumbent politician and can hamper their reputation and ability to govern or lead.

In New Mexico, the recall effort of Otero County Commissioner, Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump has garnered local, state, and national media attention. In California the recall effort to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom, once the most popular politician in California just ended as a $300 Million dollar debacle for the Republican party of California. The taxpayers are forced to pick up the $300 Million dollar tab for the “special election” that just concluded with Newsom overwhelmingly remaining in office.

What are lessons learned from the recall of Newsom, and are there any parallels with the soon to conclude effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin.

The Governor of California, Gavin Newson; represented the largest economy in America, the 5th largest in the world, the most prosperous state in wealth generation and the engine that drives the American economy via Silicon Valley; so yes, much is at risk when a governor of California failed the competency test. A former governor of California was successfully recalled, Gray Davis, leading to the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the office of governor but that is because of the electric crises, and he could not keep the lights on for business thus the California economy was at risk

Couy Griffin, as County Commissioner of Otero County represents a district within Southern New Mexico that was once the home and the center of America’s space race, nuclear program and contained a school system ranked in the top 10 in the nation. His district in the 60s thru 80’s, while rural, was like California in the concentration of scientist, researchers, innovation and was a center of military industrial collaboration and commerce. Now, however, the district has transitioned to one with increasingly dilapidated buildings, a drain of a qualified and educated work force compared to its past. The district contains one of the lowest vaccination rates and some of highest high school dropout rates in Southern, New Mexico and a lot of blame against the governor and northern New Mexico for the problems plaguing the district.

Mr. Griffin has been a lightening rod of controversy from his affiliation as leader of Cowboys for Trump to missteps in rhetoric that often gets him in trouble, and his handling of campaign finances and those around Cowboys for Trump. These have been lightening rod issues which provide poor optics politically.

What does Gavin Newsom and Couy Griffin have in common that led both to battle a recall effort? Both had a significant issue with optics and understanding voter perceptions.

Mr. Newsom before a statewide lockdown was seen eating at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the US, the French Laundry, celebrating the birthday of a close friends and ally. He implemented policies that were viewed by many as harsh, over reactive, and harmful to business.

In retrospect, yes indeed he was insensitive and created very poor optics thus deserved to be called on his actions. But at a cost of $300 Million to the taxpayers? That’s not quite an example of fiscal responsibility and taxpayer sensitivity by the Republican machine.

Economics are showing that when it came down to his policies, over the longer term, the state of California has bounced back stronger than ever, with the largest budget surplus ever and an economy that is churning stronger than at any time since it was founded. Wealth creation is at an all time high and business interests embrace Mr. Newsom because he himself was a connected and prosperous business owner and operator of high-end resorts, wineries, and restaurants. He came from a history of wealth generation and job creation thus the policies he implemented impacted his business interest directly, and he also felt the pain of those decisions. His net worth when entering the governor’s mansion was estimated as at least $20 Million.

The business community never turned-on Newsom, thus the overwhelming rejection of his recall and a failure by the Republican Party of California to unseat him.

Was Katilyn Jenner and Larry Elder the best the Republican party could do to unseat Newsom? If that is the best and the brightest of California’s Republican party, then the Republican party of California certainly has some soul searching to do. Sadly, the taxpayers of California must pick up the $300 Million dollar tab of this debacle.

Back to Commissioner Griffin, he is embroiled in the final weeks of the effort to get a recall question on the ballot. So far with less than 2 weeks left in the effort it appears Griffin may very well survive the recall effort without a vote ever getting on the ballot. Signature collection is sluggish at best. There will be entertaining commentary once the signature drive is over as the real stories of behind the scenes come to light.

Like Newsom, Commissioner Griffin has a horrible problem with optics and the public perception of his behaviors. Yet, he does not seem to care.  

With the deadline of the recall fast approached he appears emboldened and as such is speaking his mind more, traveling in spectacle with his horse red and the American flag near Holloman Airforce Base this past week, and a trip to Montana in the works.  He made statements at the most recent County Commission meeting that his opponents felt were “unbecoming of a commissioner.”

Will Couy Griffin survive the recall? As of September 7th, the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin had 991 of the 1574 required. The deadline for signatures is September 28th and then assuming 1574 are valid then there would be a special election as the deadline for the November election was missed.

Will Couy prevail as Newsom did in California? Odds at this point are yes unless there is a sudden influx of valid signatures over the next 12 days.

History has proven recall elections are won and lost based on how the business community sides.

In the case of Gavin Newsom, the business community was tightly aligned with him. In Silicon Valley he received over 80% of the vote against recalling him. Even in Republican rich, Orange County, the election swayed to his favor. Business executives contributed heavy to his campaign and saw no need in a change to the status quo.

In Otero County where is the business community in relation to Commissioner Couy Griffin?

He has not proven to be an effective business leader or wealth generator. He claims to make less then $23K per year in salaries.  He has not delivered skilled employment opportunities or high paying jobs to his district through any direct demonstrated successes. He attempted to get the Forestry Service to revisit lumber laws and forest management but that fell through during Covid. His ties with the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, now the Center of Commerce, are one of the contributing factors that led to the recall effort. One of the 5 accusations for the recall, is that his travels to DC were not county business, and the county should not pay. To bail him out the Chamber “passed the hat,” Couy’s term. That hat passing, created a flurry of investigations with the County and Secretary of State and was a contributing factor to Couy’s issue of recall.

Alamogordo and Otero County business interest seem to be silent on the recall of Couy. No major corporate contributions have been disclosed to this point, no statements in support of the recall by the area’s largest employers, no endorsement of the recall by the Center of Commerce but equally silent is no loud voice of support. Basically the business community is absent in this fight though the County Commission controls a good deal of government leverage in interfacing with state and feds on redevelopment funding and infrastructure improvement.

 So, what does Commissioner, Couy Griffin and California Governor Gavin Newsom have in common?

Though political ideological opposites that are united in common purpose, to survive a recall.

  • Both failed to understand the public outcry that can result from poor optics or poor management of their image as political leaders.
    • What one says and does matters to the public.
  • Both were temporarily weakened by the recall efforts, but both are now feeling a new sense of embodiment toward their ideology and beliefs as the result of victory or potential victory over the recall efforts.
  • Both enriched their campaign or personal coffers because of the recall efforts and the publicity around them.
    • Newsom brought in over $70 Million into his campaign coffers and has a large chunk remaining unused.
    • Griffin going into the recall claimed he was broke, lost his wife, almost lost his C4T Pickup Truck and his horse- Red, thanks to fundraising efforts led by the controversial Ben Bergquam Frontline America with alleged ties to the Proud Boys. Via Bergquam’s fundraising efforts for Griffin, Griffin has $41,142 in a funds of the $50K fundraising goal that Bergquam created for him.
  • Both love the media spotlight.
    •  Newsom is the “pretty face” of the progressive movement and is a media darling
    • Griffin is the lightening rod cowboy for Trumpian ideology, on a horse, attending rallies around the country.
  • Both got a pass from the business community
    • Couy got a disinterested business community that for the most part is waiting out the recall effort and is staying mute in dialog and direct fundraising.
    •  Gavin Newsom got a bounce and significant funding to maintain his role from the business community.

What the recall movement has done is it has brough two politicians, opposite on almost every topic, but united in a battle to win over the prevailing winds of a recall effort.

Newsom won his effort to stay and prevailed. September 28th is D Day for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin. Will he prevail and join the club of recall survivors with Gavin Newsom? Stay tuned…

AlamogordoTownNews.com The Couy Griffin Interview – France, The Recall and Dark Days…

AlamogordoTownNews.com The Couy Griffin Interview…

AlamogordoTownNews.com as a community citizen-based publication is actively engaged in digging deeper into stories, business interests and the movers and shakers of the Alamogordo community via in depth researched coverage and dialog rather than the lightweight coverage of the local corporate owned news entities.

AlamogordoTownNews.com attempts to hear and publish different sides of issues and to ensure a diverse population of voices are heard. As such we will report a variety of viewpoints, some we agree with, some we find distasteful. We will always attempt to present facts and we will limit perceived propaganda and if facts are in question, we will question them. Individuals in the public domain of politics and entertainment that live a very public life have a higher standard of what is perceived as slanderous against them and many times at the local political level that is a lesson not at first understood nor recognized.

 Fact based; science-based reality checked dialog is the foundation of our reporting on hard stories. Political stories can at times get shaded with opinion of those being interviewed. In this interview we have attempted to be unbiased and fair in allowing Mr. Griffin an open platform and quoting him verbatim without edit excepting for a few grammatical edits in punctuation.

 We have published many articles related to the recall effort of Couy Griffin that have been presented by the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin and others via its variety of spokespersons, directly affiliated and not affiliated with the effort.

As such the editorial board of the AlamogordoTownNews.com site felt it appropriate to reach out to Mr. Griffin and get his thoughts concerning the recall, but equally important we have presented the question to many local political leaders of, what they have done while in office to improve the lives of the people they represent?

As we enter the municipal elections period, we will press those elected and those seeking elected office on what, if anything, they have accomplished to better the lives of their constituents. We want hard concrete facts not talking points to present to the electorate. We will not always get them as that is the nature of political dialog.

What have they achieved that benefits the citizens, the business community, the level of education and poverty in the area? Those are the hard questions each voter should ask prior to casting a vote. Few elected leaders like these questions when pressed. Accountability of local political leaders seems to be lacking by a complacent citizenry within Alamogordo and Otero County when looking at low voter turnout in relation to local elections.

One gets the government one deserves by participation, and one does indeed get the government one deserves by a lack of participation. Those at the table do indeed decide, as Chez Sanchez reminds Otero County Citizens in his blog posts, and that principle we do indeed, agree.

Otero County seems to have one party that is driving the dialog and much of that dialog seems to be driven from extreme positions within that party, from the mask mandate in public schools to overall public health and immigration; the alternative parties and independent point of view is missing in much public dialog and debate within Otero County. Are there other voices and other active parties? If so lets hear from them on the many issues before the city and county.

The silent majority of Alamogordo and Otero County voters are just that, mostly silent, and as such the evolution and election of individuals such as Congresswoman Yvette Herrell and the election of the commissioner Couy Griffin is the result of that silence and complacency by those in the silent middle or those more moderate in thinking within all parties.

The perception by the public of extremist positions, controversial rants, and allegations of mishandling the public trust is what appears to have led to the recall effort of Couy Griffin.

Mr. Griffin has been controversial at best, some would say damaging to the reputation of the county at worst.

That is not for us to decide within the context of this article. The context of this article is to hear from Couy Griffin himself and then as the recall effort proceeds, you, the educated and informed voter within his district will decide his outcome and the outcome of the future of the Otero County politics of the future.

This recall effort is historic for the county and eyes all over New Mexico and the nation are watching this effort. Mr. Griffin is certainly feeling pressure based upon our dialog with him. What proceeds is a series of questions and his response to each.

 We offer no opinion but just present the dialog and you the reader can consider the responses…

The Couy Griffin Interview of August 7, 2021…

We began the dialog with Mr. Griffin in wanting to know a bit about his past and his time in France. How did he end up there and did he enjoy his life there, and then we proceeded into his role as an elected official, Cowboys for Trump, and the recall?

AlamogordTownNews.com – How long did you live in France and how did you end up there?

Couy Griffin Response – “I attended Cochise College in Douglas Arizona. I won the region in bull riding competition as a freshman and competed at the college national finals at Bozeman, Montana. I moved to Paris in 98’ and returned to the states in 2003.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – It sounds exotic for a cowboy from New Mexico to end up in France. Tell us about your history and how you ended up in France working at Disney?

Couy Griffin Response – “I attended college on a rodeo scholarship where I competed as a bull rider.  I went to school with a friend who grew up on the Navajo Reservation and saw an ad where they were looking for Native American Indians to perform in the show.  He responded, was hired, and plugged me to the casting director to play the role of a cowboy in the show.

 It was an amazing experience and truly a world class show.  It was a scripted show that starred Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and Cowboys and Indians from across the states.  My roles were trick riding, trick roping, driving the stagecoach and a little bit of acting.  

The show was very well received by the European guests.  There were two shows a night that seated around 1.200 people a show where the guests enjoyed a full BBQ Menu and all the beer they cared to drink.  It was a world class show on every front.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Did you enjoy the life overseas?

Couy Griffin Response – “I truly enjoyed living in Paris.  I bought a condo just near the golf course and had a wonderful group of the most diverse friends a person could have.  Friends from all over the world.  I was able to travel to most of the Western European countries and was truly blessed to see more of the world.  During the end of my stay, it got a little harder to live in France with the political tension between France, the US, and the mess in Iraq.  All the French media could do is talk about “the cowboy” George W. Bush.  And with me being an actual cowboy living in Paris you could imagine the negative attention and environment I sometimes landed in. “ 

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you do it again?  

Couy Griffin Response – “I would absolutely love to be involved in another type of Wild West show again one day.  I created and produced a few shows after moving back to the states.  One of which was here in Alamogordo at the Otero County Fair.  I have tremendous confidence in my ability to produce a show, but I lack in the financial backing and organizational ability to actually put one on.  There is so much that goes into production but Lord willing and by God’s grace I hope that one day it will happen.  To answer your question “if I’d go back” I’d say no.  I’d rather take my talent and the learned experience and move forward but I’d definitely love to be involved again one day.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com How are you personally impacted by the recall effort? 

Couy Griffin Response – “This recall effort has been by far one of the most difficult seasons in my life.  The reason being is because I have fallen victim to the lies and slander propagated by those involved as well as the local media who give them their platform.  When I drive thru town with my 6-year-old son and see the signs and booths set up promoting this recall it just makes me feel horrible.  With my social media being shut down I now have no platform to defend myself against these lies.  In today’s world you can be tried, convicted, and sentenced thru social media and local media without being given any kind of right to respond. 

 When my hearing was scheduled to address the allegations in this recall the state of NM scheduled this hearing on the same day of my monthly commission meeting.  I was faced with either attending the commission meeting and upholding my oath to office or going to defend myself against the recall.  I filed a motion of continuance stating that my right to due process was being infringed upon and the District Judge Manuel Arrieta (a Bill Richardson appointed judge) denied that motion.  Therefore, they had this hearing to decide my fate without me being present. The allegations for recall and my defense are such:

  1.  Fails to properly attend meetings.    This accusation stems from me attending 4 county commission meetings telephonically.  This is a common practice in Otero County and has been accepted for years.  Out of the 4 meetings I telephonically attended 2 of them were because of the quarantine restrictions which disallowed me to attend.  So technically I only attended 2 meetings which I could have been physically present for but due to being out of town I called in and attended.  The previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores telephonically called into 8 commission meetings during her last 4-year tenure in office.  That is over twice as many even with the meetings I couldn’t attend because of quarantine restrictions.
  2. Banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation.     This happened because I traveled onto the Mescalero Apache Reservation and met with a tribal member named Chris Valdez who couldn’t get the tribe to help him with medical treatment from a work-related accident.  While meeting with Chris we spoke about the recent Covid money the tribe had received and where that money had been spent.  Upon publicly requesting an audit to make sure that money was getting to the people of Mescalero it wasn’t long after that tribal president Gabe Aquilar banished me from the reservation.  All the while he is driving a brand-new Ford Expedition while many of the people he is elected to represent are living in very destitute conditions.
  3. Use of County Resources for Cowboys for Trump.  This stems from using my office to record videos.  All I did was record videos with my phone while in my office.  Since being elected to this office I have spent less of the county money in reimbursements than any of my fellow commissioners.  To date I have spent $397 in travel expenses.  My fellow commissioner Gerald Matherley has spent over twice as much as I have, and we took office at the same time.  Previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores spent over $8,600 dollars in travel expenses during her last term as county commissioner in this same office.  I have been extremely careful and frugal while being in office.  Yet I have been to Washington DC countless times fighting against the federal overreach on the citizens of Otero County.  All the way to the Oval Office with a personal, one on one meeting with the President.  And President Trump has never recognized Cowboys for Trump or me being a part of Cowboys for Trump.  Every time I have spoken to the President, Vice President, or heads of the United Sates Agricultural Dept they have always and only recognized me as Commissioner Griffin.
  4. Filing improper travel voucher, failing to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility.    I filled this travel voucher out under the direct advisement of the county secretary Sylvia Tilbrook as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner.  I had never filled a travel voucher out before and they are the ones that got me the paperwork and stepped me thru how to fill it out.  This voucher was then approved by the finance director Julliane Hall as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner.  I had absolutely no idea there was any problem with this voucher nor did my fellow commissioners when former commissioner Lori Bies as well as Gerald Matherley both voted to approve this voucher in a regularly scheduled meeting.  The amount of the voucher turned out to be more than my budget would allow so both commissioners voted to raise my budget allowance to cover this “improper voucher” which now I’m the one taking the heat on.
  5. Violation of the Gift Act by soliciting and accepting $3,500 from a restricted donor.     I’m not sure if it was $3,500 or $3,400 but I know that G.B. Oliver from the Chamber of Commerce “passed the hat” to local business owners to help me raise this money.  The money was only raised to help pay the county back for the illegal travel voucher that they issued.  This money that was raised was raised for Otero County.  As soon as the full amount was raised, I took this cash money in an envelope, got a money order from Well Fargo, and paid the county back the full amount for the travel voucher.  Only trying to do the right thing.  That is to make a wrong a right.  I also first checked with our County Attorney Michael Eshelman who advised me there was no problem in raising this money to pay the county back. 

That is in a nutshell my response to these allegations.  A response that the state of NM and District Judge Manuel Arrietta did not allow me the opportunity.  If I would have been able to attend this hearing, I don’t believe the recall would have been allowed to move forward and I wouldn’t be going thru what I’m going thru right now.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What 3 accomplishments have you done as a commissioner that you are proudest of?  

Couy Griffin Response – This is a tough question because the so many issues I have fought for have been such huge battles. 

    1. I was able to address the serious conditions of our local forests directly with the President.  On my first conversation with the President, I asked him if he knew where Cloudcroft New Mexico is.  He replied no and I told him that he would know exactly where it was if the forest surrounding it were to catch on fire.  The President then networked me with Undersecretary of Agriculture Jim Hubbard who oversees all the national forests across America.  I had a commitment from Undersecretary Hubbard to bring his whole staff to Otero County and while we were organizing the trip Covid hit.  This completely shut his office down and hampered his efforts.

     2.  I stood alongside our local sheriff David Black as well as the N.M. Sheriffs Association in defending against the red flag gun laws.  I travelled the state and spoke strongly inside our county to push back against these unconstitutional laws.

     3.  I was the only elected official to question the Governor in Santa Teresa NM when she said there was no crisis on our southern border.  I advocated strongly for our local border patrol and fought hard to get our secondary checkpoints back open when the crisis on the border forced them to close.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done as a commissioner to bring jobs to the district? 

Couy Griffin Response – “Bringing jobs to Otero County was one of my main focusses while entering into this office and is still a focus today.  The jobs that I fought for are the jobs that have always sustained our local economy.  That is logging and sawmilling, oil and gas, and the ranching industry.  That is why I spent so much time in Washington and focused so heavily on creating a strong relationship with President Trump.  These jobs which include natural resources on federal land could only be fought for on the federal level.  I fought and attained a verbal commitment from President Trump that in his words he was going to “fix my problem”.  I truly felt that our problems were going to be fixed during his second tenure in office but with the outcome of the speculative election it has been a great defeat.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to lower the poverty rates and improve the graduation and literacy rates in your district since elected?

Couy Griffin Response – “I believe I have fought for those problems non-stop over the last 3 years while being in office.  The reason being is because with a stronger private sector and less dependance on the government those problems will fix themselves.  When you have a society that is solely dependent on federal money you have destitution on every front.  If we could have gotten our logging and sawmilling industries on their feet, it would have provided jobs in the private sector and given people a hope for growth and prosperity moving forward into the future.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you personally done to attack the blight of abandoned properties and properties that are eyesores of junk in your district? 

Couy Griffin Response – “I just received a call and drove by one of these properties yesterday.  It is so hard to get these types of properties cleaned up with current state laws that are on the books.  I have encouraged our state representative Rachel Black to investigate getting whatever legislation we need thru the state house to address this horrible problem.  I have also visited with the property manager of Eileen Acres as well as brainstormed with property owners from this development about what options may be available.  I have expressed a commitment to do anything in my power as a commissioner to clean up abandon buildings and trailer houses throughout the county, but we really need cooperation from the state and that is still to be determined.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Have you officially announced a run for sheriff in the other county?  

Couy Griffin Response – “No I have not.  But I have entertained the thought and have spoken about it publicly.  With the current political state in our country, I feel the office of Sheriff is the most important and powerful political position in the county.  If we must make a strong stand one day in our country, it will need to be done thru the office of Sheriff and I feel I have the intestinal fortitude and would be willing to lead that charge.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you are running for sheriff why are you holding on to the commission position as it would appear your heart is more into the role of a sheriff?  

Couy Griffin Response – “I’m not running for sheriff, at this time anyway.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Can a sheriff hold office if you were elected while having a federal indictment pending?  

Couy Griffin Response – “I am currently facing a misdemeanor trespass charge and one that I don’t believe is fair or just.  So, we will just see where that ball lands.  I did nothing violent or anything that I have any conviction over that was wrong on Jan 6th.  I simply stood alongside fellow Americans to protest what I believe were fraudulent elections.  And did so under the guise that we were still a free country and still had a Constitutional Right to do so.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you believe former president Trump turned on you when he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump?  

Couy Griffin Response – “Former President Trump never distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump.  That was a “Fake News” headline.  If you believe he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump, where did you come to that conclusion from?  President Trump has never even publicly recognized Cowboys for Trump.  The different times President Trump recognized me, Couy Griffin, was only as an Otero County Commissioner.  That is the representation that I brought Otero County.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What benefit did the association of Cowboys for Trump bring to Otero County?

Couy Griffin Response – “It helped me to build a relationship with the former President.  By me starting and operating Cowboys for Trump it allowed me the opportunity to speak to him about issues directly affecting the great people of Otero County.  You could view Cowboys for Trump as a type of “non-paid” lobbying group for Otero County that worked itself all the way into the Oval Office and gained direct attention from the President of the United States.  That was an accomplishment.  And all my reward has been an unjust and uncalled for recall election with my name smeared daily on social media and mainstream media.  But the reward that I work for is not of this world but a world to come.  And the only one that matters at the end of the day is God and praise be to Jesus God knows my heart and knows why I do what I do.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you feel the political establishment in Otero County, the state or the Republican Party has turned or distanced themselves from you? 

Couy Griffin Response – “I have been very let down not necessarily by the state party but by the chairman Steve Pearce.  Only days after the event of January 6th Steve issued an official public statement off the state party platform that said “Couy Griffin travelled to Washington DC to lead the protests and riots”.  This was a flat out lie and a very slanderous attack.  Steve to this day has not retracted that statement nor apologized for it.  So, in saying that I have absolutely no respect for Steve Pearce.  And to this day wonder how you can lose the Governor’s race and when you do you are rewarded with the position of chair of the Republican Party??  Steve is a multi-millionaire that knows his way all too well around Washington DC.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why do you think a bipartisan recall committee was formed and any feelings towards those individuals or party officials?  

Couy Griffin Response – “In my opinion “bi-partisan” has really lost its edge and its meaning.  I say that because many Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats and vice versa.  Most are just bar certified attorneys who pick an R or D to fight for but at the end of the day they sleep in the same bed of corruption.  All the legislation coming out of our state and federal houses only give more grounds for attorneys to sue.  Alas creating more work for most of these agenda driven scum bags.  Take Brian Egolf for example. He is the ringleader and one of the biggest reasons New Mexico is so oppressed.  You put attorneys like Egolf and Jacob Candelaria in office and you are going to have a dysfunctional and self-serving government like we currently have in NM.  Civil Rights, Equal Rights, Transgender Rights………all this legislation does is provide more ground/standing for attorneys to sue but does nothing to help NM become more prosperous or successful.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com went back and forth with multiple emails for clarification and in dialog with Mr. Griffin. We concluded letting him know we were considering running two stories one as a more of a human interest and one of the more political Couy Griffin. He responded to that feedback requesting that we do one “story and that the man he was before he entered office is the man he is today.

Again AlamogordoTownNews.com is not issuing an opinion on the recall or of Mr. Griffins feedback from this interview process. We will leave that for the readers to determine. We do have some unanswered questions and will follow-up with Steve Pierce and others referenced via his comments in future stories of follow-up.

We will conclude this article with Mr. Griffin’s final statement to the AlamogordoTownNews.com site…

I’d rather not have the story laid out in a way on how such a nice guy could now be such a horrible domestic terrorist.  Of course, not accusing you of that’s the way it would be presented but I can promise you one thing.  I’m the same guy today as I was before if not more loving and more sacrificial today.  

Since entering office, I have done everything for the greater good and made huge sacrifices.  After my first trip to Washington when Cowboys for Trump was founded and branded and all the guys, I rode with came back to families awaiting their arrivals at the airport I came back to divorce papers on my kitchen table.  

I had to get completely out of the restaurant business because after the Alamogordo Daily News began their slanderous attacks my business was in the tank.  I have given all my personal time, finances, and energy to this cause.

 I’ve made some emotionally driven statements a couple times, only good Democrat…and black NFL football players who want to disrespect our flag and play something as RACIST as a “black national anthem” to go to Africa and play their football.  Both statements taken entirely out of context.  

The first statement I was only speaking figuratively and the second as a red blooded American.  If you don’t love it leave it. But the media will only cherry pick those two sound bites out of hundreds of speeches I’ve made.

 I’ve ONLY ever wanted to put America and the American People first.  I’ve wanted to protect our second amendment and protect the unborn.  And it’s too bad Democrats don’t care as much about dead babies as they do dead Democrats!!

I’ve written you candidly and honestly as I would a friend.  In trusting that you are decent though I’ve never met you.  That is the way I treat everyone.  With love and respect.  As I have learned to do as I work out my faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.

You can use anything I’ve told you to date.  Even this message right here.  All I ask is that you don’t twist my words or try to present me as someone I’m not.  I’m tired of the media. I’m tired of the liars and slanderers like Paul Sanchez, Scott Fredericks, and the rest of the recall committee.  

I have a little over a year left on my oath to the people who elected me and after that I will have done my service.

Politics is the most dirty, corrupt, and hateful world I have ever looked into.  And the only reason I fight the way I do is to try and do my part to protect our country and freedoms from those who want to destroy both.  I am financially broke and hang in the balance of an uncertain future.  But by God’s grace I will not be threatened, intimidated, and I damn sure won’t back down.

Sincerely,

Couy”

AlamogordoTownNew.com is publishing the interview notes directly as written by Mr. Griffin. We offer no commentary at this time but will allow comments, guest commentaries or feedback from any of our readers if they remain professional, stick to facts and do not engage in propaganda and distortions of facts nor personal attacks.

The comments from Mr. Griffin are his and his alone and he owns the commentary of which is published as a response to questions posed.

Now the readers and the voters of his district will decide his fate and that of the political agenda of Otero County as the recall effort moves forward. Mr. Griffin has approximately 1 year left in his term if the recall effort fails before he would face re-election if he so chose to run.