GILLETTE — Couy Griffin says it’s more important now than it ever has been for people at local levels of government to stand up to state and federal officials when it comes to certifying the results of elections they believe are fraudulent.
Griffin, a New Mexico resident who was convicted for participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, spoke at a Campbell County Republican Party fundraiser held at the Cam-plex complex in Gillette on Saturday afternoon, the third anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, melee at the U.S. Capitol.
Local Rejection First
Because election results are preliminarily certified at the county level, Griffin wants local county officials to refuse to certify election results they believe may have been tainted with fraud.
He told a large crowd at Saturday’s event that’s what he did in 2020 when he was a commissioner for Otero County, New Mexico, refusing to certify President Joe Biden’s win in his county.
Local officials have to also levy complaints about election equipment and other procedures now before this year’s primary and presidential elections so their protests hold more merit later down the road if the concerns aren’t resolved by higher powers, Griffin said.
“It’s the local county commissioners that are selling us out because the vote is first certified on the local county level,” he said. “If we will hold the line on our local county level with our county commissioners, and they will refuse to certify a vote that they have a problem with, then we can begin to start to hold the line.”
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, many Republicans followed the lead of former President Donald Trump in rejecting the results that gave Biden the White House.
Similarly, Griffin said local officials should pledge to forgo certifying election results in 2024 unless Trump’s name is allowed on their ballots.
In recent months, legal challenges have been made in more than 30 states to prevent Trump’s name from appearing on their state’s ballots for the alleged role in leading an insurrection on Jan. 6.
So far, Colorado and Maine have officially pulled his name from the ballot. A Wyoming judge threw out a similar effort in the Cowboy State on Friday.
A New Threat
Griffin told Cowboy State Daily after his roughly hour-long speech that he expects efforts to pull Trump’s name from the ballot to be the primary source of election fraud in the upcoming election.
“I think what’s going to cause the disruption is removing candidates (from) the ballot,” he said. “Whenever judges start taking candidates off the ballot, it’s going to completely destroy (elections).”
He said similar pledges could be made by local officials in Wyoming if a controversial U.S. Postal Service proposal to move outgoing mail processing from Cheyenne to Denver goes through. The Postal Service told Cowboy State Daily last week it is studying how the plan would affect election mail in Wyoming.
“Any opportunities they have to cheat, better bet your boots they will,” Griffin said.
Speaking more generally to the audience, Griffin said federal and state governments must answer to local governments, not the other way around.
“It’s going to take local county government to step up and quit cowering to the state, quit cowering to the federal government, and honor their oaths to the people that they’ve sworn an oath to,” he said.
Who Is Griffin?
Griffin is the founder of the political activist group Cowboys for Trump, whose members are known for riding on horseback at political events and rallies in support of Trump and other politicians.
After riding horseback thousands of miles to the U.S. Capitol to show support for Trump in the past, Griffin gained the former president’s attention and developed a relationship with him.
He was a New Mexico county commissioner at the time he attended the Jan. 6 event.
Griffin said although he saw some questionable behavior on Jan. 6, he maintains that despite his conviction, he didn’t consciously do anything illegal himself or surround himself with anyone who had.
“I never crossed over any barriers, I never pushed through anywhere,” he said.
His views that Biden didn’t legitimately win the election are shared by 36% of Americans, according to a recent Washington Post poll. Similarly, 72% of Republicans believe too much is being made of Jan. 6 and that it wasn’t an attack on democracy.
A local lawsuit was filed in New Mexico to remove Griffin from office for being at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, under a constitutional 14th Amendment violation. The judge granted the request, banning Griffin for life from holding public office for participating in an insurrection, unless overruled by an act from Congress.
Griffin appealed the decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which dismissed his appeal in February, standing by the district court’s opinion.
After this ruling, Griffin visited Trump’s compound in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, where he received legal counsel. Shortly after that visit, he submitted an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to take up his case, which is still under consideration.
“That could be a great legal win for justice to get that removal overturned.” he said.
He also has appealed his trespass conviction on the grounds that the restricted area he entered should not have been closed off as restricted.
‘Abuse And Torture … Is Real’
Although Griffin couldn’t provide any direct evidence of voter fraud in his county, he noted how his county officials refused to get an outside forensic expert to study the vote tabulators used. He also said he saw evidence where votes were connected to unoccupied addresses.
“I think we’ve found enough evidence in Otero County to prove our point that it was tainted, that it was fraudulent,” he said.
After refusing to certify Biden’s election win in his county, he later announced that he be armed when he went back to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. When he did just that, he was arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Griffin would go on to spend nine days in solitary confinement for refusing to take a COVID-19 test while in jail. During this time, Griffin said he wasn’t allowed to shower or talk to family over the phone. He described the prison he was incarcerated in as the “Washington, D.C., gulag,” rife with black mold on the walls of his cell and brown water flowing from the faucet.
“The abuse and torture of the United States government right now today against the American people is real,” he said.
He was released from jail about two weeks later, was convicted for trespassing, but acquitted on a disorderly conduct charge. As part of his sentence, Griffin was given 14 days in jail (already served), 60 days of community service and a $3,000 fine.
Official reports of the event say five people died as a result of the riot and 138 police officers were hurt.
Following on the heels of growing conservative distrust of America’s intelligence agencies, Griffin said he views the FBI as a discredited organization that helped orchestrate Jan. 6 and wanted the event to be considered an insurrection all along.
Although Griffin expressed support for local county sheriffs during his speech Saturday in Wyoming, he told Cowboy State Daily the Capitol Police working at the Capitol that day weren’t victims.
“To the people that entered the (Capitol) building, if there were police officers that were standing there holding the doors open for them, I’d think the police would be more blamed for people walking into the building,” he said. “All they had to do was keep the doors locked.”
The act Griffin refers to and believes has been undercovered by the media happened after rioters pushed past police barriers, sprayed chemical irritants and smashed windows at the Capitol complex.
On Saturday, Griffin painted a picture of Jan. 6 being an example of heroic American patriotism, describing his attendance at the event as an act of sacrifice for his country.
Saturday’s gathering was a fundraiser for the Campbell County Republican Party, titled “A Jan. 6 Prisoner’s Story.”
The connection between the Campbell County GOP and Griffin was formed by Gillette resident Patricia Junek, who unsuccessfully ran against state Sen. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, in 2022.
Junek and her husband also were at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. She called it “one of the most amazing experiences” in her life.
“There is nothing of what has been portrayed and that makes me very sad,” she told Cowboy State Daily.
After Jan. 6, Junek and her husband met and developed a relationship with Griffin at a few conservative events around the country.
Gillette Republican legislators Sen. Troy McKeown, Reps. John Bear and Abby Angelos were in attendance Saturday, as were fellow state Reps. Ken Pendergraft, R-Sheridan, Allen Slagle, R-Newcastle, and Wyoming GOP Vice Chair David Holland.
Holland, who also expressed disbelief in the results of the 2020 election, pressed those at Cam-plex to do everything they can to help Trump get elected this fall.
“This might be the most important election, and I believe it is the most important election we’ve ever experienced,” Holland said.
Griffin offered a similar sentiment, saying the Republican Party has been infiltrated by “RINOs,” an acronym that means “Republican in name only” for those believed to not follow the party platform. He believes Trump is the only candidate the party should support and is “hoping and praying” the former president hires him for an administration position if he’s reelected.
“We need a party of patriots, we don’t need a party of infiltrators,” he said. “We need a party right now that’s strong, that’s together, that pushes together.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.