New Mexico County Commissioner First to Be Removed from Office Over Jan. 6

A county commissioner in New Mexico has become the first public official to lose their job for participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

A state judge in New Mexico ruled on Tuesday that the Republican violated the U.S. Constitution by engaging in an insurrection.

State District Court Judge Francis Mathew wrote in his decision that Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, founder of a group called “Cowboys for Trump,” violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when he took part in the riot that left four people dead and 100 police officers injured, disqualifying him from holding local, state or federal office.

On Jan. 6, Griffin joined thousands of supporters of former president Donald Trump at the Capitol. 

Griffin was one of the supporters who breached security barriers outside of the building and eventually assumed a leadership role in the mob and egged on the violence, Mathew said in his ruling.

Griffin “incited, encouraged and helped normalize the violence,” Mathew wrote. Griffin’s actions were “overt acts in support of the insurrection.”

Griffin is the first elected official to be removed from office for their involvement in the riot.

The ruling also marks the first time a judge has ruled that the incident was an insurrection and the first time since 1869 that a judge has removed a public official under Section 3.

Experts and analysts said the removal of the county official is a historic win for accountability for the deadly insurrection, which was an effort to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in the United States. 

In the run-up to the insurrection, Griffin and his organization helped to mobilize the “Stop the Steal” movement. It falsely claimed that when Trump lost the presidential election in 2020, it was because of widespread fraud, an assertion rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of his own administration, Mathew wrote.

Griffin was sentenced in federal court in June to 14 days in jail over his role in the riot, two months after he was convicted in a bench trial of a misdemeanor count of entering and remaining on restricted grounds on Jan. 6, 2021.

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