(Bloomberg) — A state judge in New Mexico on Tuesday ordered Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner and permanently disqualified from holding elective office for participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
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Griffin, who was convicted of a misdemeanor crime earlier this year for illegally being at the Capitol, is the first person associated with the Jan. 6 insurrection to be kicked out of office under the US Constitution.
It’s the first time since 1869 that any official has been removed under what’s known as the “Disqualification Clause” of the Constitution, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group involved in suing for Griffin’s removal.
Efforts to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment’s disqualification language to halt re-election runs by Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn weren’t successful.
CREW provided a copy of the ruling. The group’s president Noah Bookbinder called the decision from Judge Francis Mathew “a historic win for accountability.”
Griffin was one of the higher-profile defendants charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on behalf of supporters of former President Donald Trump after he lost the 2020 election. Griffin did not immediately return a request for comment. He represented himself in the New Mexico case.
The Fourteenth Amendment states that any federal or state official is disqualified from office if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Mathew, who sits in the district court in Santa Fe, wrote that Griffin had taken such an oath, that the Jan. 6 attack was an “insurrection,” and that Griffin was an active and enthusiastic participant in the events that day.
Video from Jan. 6 showed Griffin climbing up to a terrace outside the Capitol as the mob descended on the grounds and addressing the crowd. His effort to fight the criminal prosecution was backed by Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s attorneys and a leading promoter of baseless post-election conspiracy theories whose Defending the Republic group produced a documentary about Griffin called “Political Prisoner.”
Griffin was found guilty of illegally being in a restricted area, a misdemeanor offense, following a short bench trial in federal court in Washington earlier this year. The judge acquitted him of the second misdemeanor he faced for disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 14 days in jail, a year of supervised release, and a $3,000 fine; he is appealing his conviction.
Mathew wrote that although Griffin wasn’t accused of violence or charged with more serious crimes, he “incited, encouraged, and helped normalize the violence.”
Griffin’s “protestations and his characterizations of his actions and the events of January 6, 2021 are not credible and amounted to nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig,” Mathew wrote.
Griffin had taken his oath of office in December 2018. A petition for a recall vote in 2021 failed to get enough signatures, according to the AP, but Mathew wrote that didn’t stop a court from taking action under the Constitution. Griffin’s effort to rely on the unsuccessful recall vote “overlooks that his own insurrectionary conduct on January 6 sought to subvert the results of a free and fair election,” the judge wrote.
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