Court upholds ban against Cowboys for Trump co-founder

The New Mexico Supreme Court rejected a final appeal for reconsideration by a New Mexico politician and Donald Trump supporter who was removed and barred from elected office for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

The court on Thursday closed out an appeal initiated last year by Cowboys for Trump co-founder and former County Commissioner Couy Griffin. Justices cited missed court filing deadlines by Griffin in rejecting his appeal.

With Griffin’s banishment from elected office in September 2022, a Santa Fe-based District Court became the first to remove or bar an elected official in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol building that disrupted Congress as it was trying to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Griffin was previously convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, without going inside the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.

On Friday, Griffin accused New Mexico’s high court of endorsing a “fraud pie,” and vowed to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

At trial in Santa Fe, Griffin invoked free speech guarantees in his defense and said his banishment from public office disenfranchises his political constituents in Otero County.

“The fight is far from over,” Griffin said in a text message to The Associated Press.

Griffin was barred from office under provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which holds that anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution can be barred from office for engaging in insurrection or rebellion. The provisions were put in place shortly after the Civil War.

Beyond New Mexico, Democratic lawmakers in a handful of states — including New York, Connecticut and Virginia — have proposed legislation this year that would prohibit anyone convicted of participating in an insurrection from holding public office or a position of public trust, such as becoming a police officer.

But in some instances, charges and convictions in the Jan. 6 riots haven’t dampened personal political ambitions.

Republican Derrick Evans, a former West Virginia state lawmaker who served prison time for his role in the Jan. 6 riot, announced plans last month to run for a U.S. House seat in 2024.

A judge in Alaska ruled in December that a state legislator with ties to the far-right Oath Keepers group is eligible to hold office because he had no specific intent to “further the Oath Keeper’s words or actions aimed at overthrowing the United States government.”

Griffin, a 48-year-old former rodeo rider and former pastor, helped found Cowboys for Trump in 2019. The promotional group staged horseback parades to spread the former president’s conservative message about gun rights, immigration controls and abortion restrictions.

Last year, Griffin voted twice as a county commissioner against certifying New Mexico’s June 7 primary election, in a standoff over election integrity fueled by conspiracy theories about the security of voting equipment in the Republican-dominated county.