Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin proposes fully reopening county

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) –Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump leader Couy Griffin is proposing to fully reopen his county, breaking the state’s public health order. However, the governor’s office says his plan won’t work.

Griffin said he’s adamant that now is the time to fully reopen the county. He wants to leave it up to businesses to choose their capacity limits and COVID-safe measures. Despite New Mexico’s current red-to-turquoise framework for reopening, based on a county’s test positivity rate and other measures. His county is in the yellow, but Griffin said it’s still time to get back to normal. “We’re going to quit robbing our children of their future, we’re going to quit oppressing the small businesses,” said Griffin. “We’re going to open up and we’re going to do it with a bang.”    

He said Otero County businesses, organizations, schools, and other entities would make their own decisions about capacity, face masks, and social distancing. The resolution even calls for the sheriff’s office to assist those businesses with resisting the public health orders, orders he believes are unconstitutional.

This comes as he awaits trial for his alleged involvement in the storming of the U.S. Capitol back in January, where he was charged with misdemeanor trespassing. In just the last couple of weeks, a local group called the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin has requested a district court hearing to see if they can circulate a petition to recall Griffin for allegations like using his office to promote the Cowboys for Trump organization, not attending commission meetings in person, having the county pay for his travel unrelated to commission work, among other things.

“The Committee to Recall Couy Griffin basically feels that Commissioner Griffin is and has been an embarrassment to our county,” said Paul Sanchez, the chairman of the committee. The Otero County Commission will hear Griffin’s proposal on April 8. That’s the same day as the civil complaint hearing. Griffin denies the group’s allegations against him.

Nora Meyers Sackett with the Governor’s Office sent KRQE an emailed statement below in response to Griffin’s proposal: 

“Such a measure has no legal effect. The commissioner is free to his own opinions (except when he is threatening violence, of course, as he has done) but not his own facts – New Mexico emergency public health orders carry the full weight of law throughout the state. Otero County residents can continue to progress in their fight against the virus by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and registering for and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s their turn.”

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