Cowboys for Trump leader's comment draws fire - Albuquerque Journal

Cowboys for Trump leader’s comment draws fire

Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner, speaks at an Albuquerque City Council meeting in this May 2019 file photo. Griffin is facing criticism for recent remarks he made about Democrats. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – An Otero County commissioner and founder of the “Cowboys for Trump” group is facing calls to resign after a video clip surfaced of him saying, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

But Couy Griffin said Wednesday that he doesn’t feel like he’s done anything wrong and that his recent comments about Democrats at a rally in Truth or Consequences were made in a political – not physical – sense.

“I wasn’t calling for anyone to be murdered or killed,” Griffin, a Republican, told the Journal.

However, the remarks have drawn bipartisan condemnation, with Lt. Gov. Howie Morales calling them “incredibly irresponsible” and the state Democratic Party saying Griffin should resign.

The New Mexico Young Republicans also condemned Griffin’s remarks and asked him to apologize, saying the statements set a dangerous precedent for political discourse in New Mexico.

“We value the personal and political worth of all New Mexicans and to make such an outrageous statement is contrary to the pro-life Republican Party platform,” the group’s chairwoman, Rebekah Stevens, said in a statement.

Griffin is no stranger to controversy. The Secretary of State’s Office determined last year that he may have broken state law by filming a video in the Otero County Commission chambers in which he requested donations to help pay for a horseback ride in support of President Donald Trump.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver also ruled that Cowboys for Trump should have to register with the state as a political action committee, though the group’s leaders balked at the order.

In an interview, Griffin said Wednesday that he has no plans to resign. He also said he believes he has been targeted by Democrats due to the high profile of Cowboys for Trump, which has held rallies outside the Roundhouse to protest an abortion rights bill and border-related issues.

Griffin also said he does not regret his Sunday speech, in which he also described Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as a dishonest “communist,” saying that his remarks referred to Republicans’ attempt to win control of the state Legislature.

During the recorded speech, Griffin specifically said: “I’ve come to a place where I’ve come to the conclusion that the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat. I don’t say that in the physical sense and I can already see the videos being edited where it says I want to go murder Democrats.

“No, I say that in the political sense, because the Democrat agenda and policy is anti-American right now.”

While not directly addressing Griffin’s remarks, the state Republican Party posted on social media Wednesday that “any statements, whether in jest or serious about harming another individual are just plain wrong.”

Meanwhile, the remarks are just the latest in a string of controversial comments made by New Mexico elected or appointed officials since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki faced criticism from Republicans for tweeting last month that those focused on businesses profits during the outbreak were a “death cult.”

And the Anti-Defamation League condemned comments made by Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks that compared New Mexico State Police to the Gestapo after he said he was reopening small businesses in defiance of a public health order issued by the Lujan Grisham administration.

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