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Supreme Court allows recall effort against Trump booster

June 29, 2021 GMT
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Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin presides at a public meeting in Alamogordo, N.M., on Thursday, May 13, 2021, in a shirt with a "C4T" logo that stands for Cowboys for Trump. Griffin founded the support group for President Trump that held horseback parades across the country. Griffin is revered and reviled in politically conservative Otero County as he confronts criminal charges for joining protests on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He is fighting for his political future amid a recall initiative and state probes into his finances. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)
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Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin presides at a public meeting in Alamogordo, N.M., on Thursday, May 13, 2021, in a shirt with a "C4T" logo that stands for Cowboys for Trump. Griffin founded the support group for President Trump that held horseback parades across the country. Griffin is revered and reviled in politically conservative Otero County as he confronts criminal charges for joining protests on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He is fighting for his political future amid a recall initiative and state probes into his finances. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An effort to recall the founder of Cowboys for Trump from his public office as a county commissioner can move forward, under an order Monday of the New Mexico state Supreme Court.

In a written order, state Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected an appeal from Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin and upheld a lower court ruling that found adequate reasons for voters to circulate a recall petition. A successful petition with enough signatures would trigger a special election vote on whether Griffin can finish his four-year term in office.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to provide the registered voters of Otero County ... the chance to decide if Commissioner Griffin is still the person they want to continue to represent them on the county commission, as well as nationwide,” the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin said in a statement.

Griffin formed Cowboys for Trump in 2019 with a group of rodeo acquaintances to hold horseback-riding parades across the country in support of then-President Donald Trump, and has ascribed to unsubstantiated claims of massive 2020 election fraud.

Griffin was arrested in Washington after vowing to take his guns to the inauguration of President Joe Biden, and has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges in connection with the siege on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, where he appeared on an outdoor terrace and attempted to lead the crowd in prayer.

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Retired military veteran Paul Sanchez and other members of the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin are accusing Griffin of using his elected county position for personal gain.

They say Griffin skipped commission meetings and used his county office space to solicit contributions to Cowboys for Trump that covered his personal expenses.

And they have criticizing Griffin’s pursuit of travel reimbursements from taxpayers in Otero County for a cross-country trip in 2019 that culminated in a visit with Trump at the White House.

Contacted Monday, Griffin called the recall initiative frivolous and vowed to “stand strong.” Griffin’s term runs through 2022.

“I still have a lot of confidence in the people in my district,” Griffin said. “Those voters in my district are constitutional conservatives. You know, they believe in individual freedoms and individual liberties. And I think I’m in tune with them.”

Griffin described Cowboys for Trump as a name brand he proudly created and still wears on shirts in public, but says his visit with Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in September 2019 was an opportunity to raise concerns about the management of federal lands in Otero County.

“I mean, how much bigger representation can you bring to Otero County?” Griffin said.

Griffin says that Cowboys for Trump is a for-profit endeavor that is not subject to financial disclosure requirements for political organizations.

The recall committee is seeking final approval of its petition before it can be circulated for signatures. Officials at the Otero County clerk’s office were unavailable Monday to confirm requirements and deadlines in the recall drive.