Couy Griffin is the founder of the Cowboys for Trump’ organization and a former commissioner of Otero County, New Mexico. In addition, he took part in the Long Riders, a horseback ride from San Francisco to Jerusalem meant to show support for Israel.
In his role as leader of Cowboys for Trump, Griffin supported a right-wing platform advocating for gun rights, border security, and opposition to abortion, and organized activities such as an 8-day horseback caravan from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington to promote Trump’s policies. After the 2020 election, he helped spread the Big Lie and was arrested for attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Griffin also caused a scandal in July 2020 when he used incendiary, racist language to attack people calling for the adoption of a Black national anthem. In a selfie video, he said that supporters of the anthem should “go back to Africa and form your little football teams over in Africa and you can play on an old beat-out dirt lot.” His racist statements along with his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection and his refusal to certify results in a June 2022 primary election led the NAACP and others to call for Griffin to be barred from holding public office.
January 6, 2021
- After participating in the mob attack on the Capitol, Griffin was arrested and convicted of trespassing. “My actions on January 6 was a result of my faith,” he told the judge hearing the case. “I live a life devoted to the Lord.” The judge sentenced him to 14 days (with time served since he was in jail for 20 days awaiting trial), fined him $3,000, and also called for one year of supervised release and 60 hours of community service.
- During the attack, Griffin was videotaped saying that he had “Mike Pence in our prayers” and was calling on the vice president to “do the right thing.” At his trial, he argued that he had acted peacefully and calmed a group of rioters by leading them in prayer.
- Additional evidence presented at Griffin’s trial demonstrated that during the insurrection he shouted that the election had been stolen. He also climbed a toppled fence and another barrier to reach the Capitol steps and used a bullhorn to lead rioters in prayer.
- On Sept. 6, 2022, Griffin became the first elected official to be removed from office for his role in the attack. New Mexico judge Francis Mathew ruled that he had violated a clause of the 14th Amendment by participating in an “insurrection.” In his ruling, the judge wrote that Griffin’s efforts “to sanitize his actions are without merit” and “amounted to nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig.”
The Big Lie
- Despite the fact that Trump won Otero County, Griffin repeatedly said, “I do believe our elections were stolen.”
- As commissioner of Otero County, Griffin pushed for a study that he and his supporters called an audit of the 2020 election. The study cost taxpayers $50,000 and reportedly included volunteers going door-to-door to ask voters which candidate they selected. Defending the need for an audit, Griffin said, “It’s not like I’m trying to overturn an election that we lost. But the need for the audit isn’t necessarily here in Otero County. The need for the audit in New Mexico was more in the likes of Bernalillo County, and Sandoval County and Doña Ana County,” referring to counties in which the majority of voters picked Biden.
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- Griffin revived debunked arguments of election fraud during New Mexico’s primary elections in June 2022. Instead of making specific and detailed allegations of fraud, he and two other Otero County commissioners refused to certify the election results by citing vague concerns about the efficacy of the voting machines used by Dominion Voting Systems. On June 17, the commissioners eventually voted 2–1 to certify the primary election results, with Griffin voting against certification.