Otero County denies request for legal help - Albuquerque Journal

Otero County denies request for legal help

In this file photo, Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters as he arrives at federal court. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Otero County commissioners on Friday rejected a plea by one of their colleagues, Couy Griffin, for taxpayer-funded legal representation as he fights a lawsuit seeking his removal from office.

Griffin – who was convicted of the misdemeanor offense of entering restricted grounds at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – faces a legal complaint alleging he should be barred from holding public office for participating in the insurrection.

Griffin, in turn, maintains he was simply engaged in peaceful protest and was wrongly convicted.

His defense sparked laughter from members of the audience Friday as he made the case for county legal representation and said it was time to take a stand against “tyrannical Marxists” who want to take away freedom.

“Look this is hard enough without you all laughing,” Griffin said at one point in the meeting.

The other two members of the commission voted against authorizing county representation. Griffin didn’t vote.

Otero County Attorney Roy Nichols said the commission was prohibited by law from providing Griffin’s legal defense in the case, partly because of evidence that Griffin visited Washington, D.C., in his personal capacity, not as part of his duties as a county commissioner.

“It’s pretty black and white here, Couy, it really is,” Commissioner Vickie Marquardt said. “I know you’re in a bind.”

A founder of the group Cowboys for Trump, Griffin has withstood a recall attempt and been embroiled repeatedly in controversy.

He has shared false claims about election fraud, voted against certifying the 2022 primary election results in Otero County and faced criticism for remarks that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” and that some Black athletes should “go back to Africa.”

Griffin wasn’t accused of entering the Capitol building itself during the Jan. 6 riot, when a mob attacked the Capitol and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

But U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden convicted Griffin of entering a restricted area. He noted, according to the Associated Press, that Griffin had crossed over three walls, needing help from others or a ladder to get over them.

Griffin was acquitted of engaging in disorderly conduct, which he said “proves I was not part of an insurrection.”

The complaint seeking his removal from office is pending in state court. It was filed by three residents of Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties.

Griffin is not seeking reelection this year, and his term is set to expire Dec. 31.

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