MAGA Loyalist Removed From Office For 14th Amendment Violation

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Following months of proceedings in which “Cowboys for Trump” founder Couy Griffin largely represented himself, a New Mexico judge — Francis Mathew — ordered Griffin out of office and barred him from holding an expansive range of elected offices in the future because of his participation in last year’s Trump-incited riot at the Capitol.

Griffin was a member of the county commission in Otero County, a GOP-leaning county in New Mexico. During the bench trial in the case against him challenging his legal eligibility to stay in office, Griffin didn’t call any of his own witnesses or present any evidence beyond his own testimony. He also questioned witnesses called by the plaintiffs’ side — and that’s apparently all. Mathew’s ruling outlining his conclusions tears into Griffin’s credibility — or more accurately, his lack of it. With his future in public office under threat, Griffin tried to downplay his involvement in what happened at the Capitol, and at times, he seemingly attempted to downplay the riot itself. At trial, Griffin’s story changed, specifically regarding whether he personally saw violence unfold. Under pressure, Griffin compared a portion of the crowd violently pushing into a tunnel at the Capitol to a “happy crowd” following a basketball game, as the judge summarized it.

Griffin wasn’t charged for his riot participation over committing physical violence, but he was eventually convicted of a federal trespassing offense. Among other actions, he climbed up a security barricade, evidently bringing him closer to the Capitol building itself. Now, Mathew wrote in his ruling that Griffin is “constitutionally ineligible and barred for life” from serving in a variety of public positions, including “any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State.” (The latter quote is from federal legal standards for the issue.) A group of New Mexico voters represented by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (alongside other participating law firms) was behind the case, which rested on arguments drawn from a portion of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that restricts those involved in insurrection from freely holding office. It’s the same portion of the Constitution used in challenges to the eligibility for re-election of pro-Trump public figures including Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

Here, it’s not only a question of incitement. Griffin was actually there in the crowd that descended on the Capitol, and a Trump-appointed federal judge found him guilty of a criminal act in a subsequent bench trial. As part of his conclusions, Mathew formally described the attack on the Capitol and surrounding circumstances as an insurrection. The relevant portion of the 14th Amendment specifically imposes restrictions on individuals who participated in insurrection after taking an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, as Griffin did in assuming his role as county commissioner. Mathew ordered Griffin’s removal from office “effective immediately.” The judge’s order also specifically blocks Griffin from seeking to take official action in what he might claim is a continuing role as county commissioner. Griffin is “permanently enjoined and prohibited from performing any official acts in his purported capacity as an Otero County Commissioner or on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County,” as the judge explained it.