Cowboys for Trump Founder, Facing Charges in Capitol Riot, Won't Be Recalled in New Mexico

Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, who is facing charges in last January's U.S. Capitol riot, will not be recalled from office as a county commissioner in southern New Mexico, the Associated Press reported.

A recall petition collected 1,229 signatures from registered voters in Griffin's Otero County district, recall committee spokesman Scott Fredrick said. The petition drive fell short of the required number for a special election to be held.

"Since we didn't meet the signature threshold, there is no next step," Fredrick said Tuesday night.

Griffin is facing misdemeanor criminal charges in the assault on the U.S. Capitol, where he appeared on an outdoor terrace and tried to lead the crowd in prayer, the AP said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Couy Griffin Cowboys for Trump
Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, charged in the January 6 Capitol riot, will not be recalled from office as a county commissioner in New Mexico because the recall petition did not gather enough signatures. Above, Griffin rides on New York's Fifth Avenue on May 1, 2020. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New Mexico requires a number of signatures equal to 33.3 percent of participation in the previous election. The recall petition fell shy, with about 28 percent participation as time ran out on Wednesday.

A successful recall election would have allowed Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to select an interim replacement. Griffin can run for reelection in 2022 but told the AP last week that he's more interested in running for sheriff in his native Catron County or governor of New Mexico someday.

Griffin has resumed traveled to political speaking engagements—in Texas, Montana and Arizona—while burnishing his image in a new video documentary as a God-fearing "peaceful patriot" who stands in solidarity with about 70 defendants jailed on charges related to the January 6 siege on the Capitol.

The failed recall petition accused Griffin of failing to attend commission meetings, using his elected position for personal gain in promoting a support group for former President Donald Trump, improper travel vouchers and violating state restrictions on gifts to public officials.

Griffin described the charges as frivolous and blamed county staff for providing bad guidance on travel reimbursements.

Griffin formed Cowboys for Trump in 2019 with a group of rodeo acquaintances, vowing to hold horseback-riding parades nationwide in support of Trump.

Griffin denies allegations that he knowingly entering barricaded areas of the Capitol grounds with the intent of disrupting government as Congress considered the 2020 Electoral College results, though he openly ascribes to unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

In a 50-minute online documentary and political origin story released in August, Griffin recounts his own travails inside a Washington, D.C., jail for nearly three weeks after his arrest in the run-up to President Biden's inauguration. Griffin says he didn't directly witness violence at the Capitol on January 6 but believes it was perpetrated by militant leftists and not Trump supporters, contrary to extensive evidence.

"I myself wear January 6 as a badge of honor," Griffin says in the film, infused with orchestral tones. "I'm glad that I went on that stand with my fellow Americans in protest of what will one day be known as the biggest rigged election in American history."

Biden's victory was certified by officials in each of the swing states he won and by Congress on January 6—after Trump's supporters, fueled by false allegations of widespread election fraud, stormed the House and Senate chambers in a failed attempt to prevent certification of how Americans voted nationwide.

Griffin says the film about him was put together by Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell and her group, Defending the Republic.

Powell has filed a number of baseless lawsuits challenging 2020 election results and helped fund the recent Arizona election audit.

Griffin also is challenging directives by state election regulators to register Cowboys for Trump as a political committee, arguing that financial disclosures would subject contributors to harassment. Griffin insists Cowboys for Trump is exempt as a for-profit group and wants a 2019 state law concerning independent political expenditure groups to be declared unconstitutional.

Powell is representing Griffin in that case, now before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Cowboys for Trump Founder
Otero County Commissionerer Couy Griffin presides at a May 13 public meeting in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in a shirt with a "C4T" logo that stands for Cowboys for Trump. Morgan Lee, File/AP Photo