Cowboys for Trump ordered to file as political committee, pay fines by District Judge

Nicole Maxwell
Alamogordo Daily News

New Mexico First Judicial District Court Judge Maria Sanchez-Gagne confirmed in a June 3 arbitration hearing a previous ruling which required Cowboys For Trump to register in New Mexico as a political committee pursuant to the Campaign Reporting Act.

Sanchez-Gagne order upholds a June 2020 arbitration award in the case between Cowboys For Trump and its founders Couy Griffin and Kay Griffin and the New Mexico Secretary of State.

"This allows us to enforce the original arbitration award with more legal avenues if C4T continues to defy what is now a court ordered judgment and not simply an arbitration award," Secretary of State Spokesman Alex Curtas said in an email to the Alamogordo Daily News.

"The order demands that C4T needs to pay the money they owe and register as a political committee."

Couy Griffin could not be reached for comment on the issue.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver

The judgement, filed June 7, declares that Cowboys for Trump is subject to the New Mexico Campaign Reporting Act and that the organization must pay $7,800 in fines to the New Mexico Secretary of State.

The organization was also ordered to file all delinquent expenditure and contribution reports with the New Mexico Secretary of State. These filings include the 2019 Biannual Reports and all 2020 expenditures and contribution reports as required by the Campaign Reporting Act, the judgement states.

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"Secretary Toulouse Oliver is pleased with this outcome as it confirms what our position has been all along, namely, that C4T, like any other political entity, cannot operate off the grid," Curtas said.

"They have been in violation of campaign finance and disclosure laws and need to come into compliance. No person or entity who seeks to influence our elections in New Mexico is exempted from following our state’s financial disclosure laws."

Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, addresses a crowd of more than 200 at Ned Houk Park in August 2020. He said the group was the face of a silent majority that needed to speak up for their rights.

On July 7, 2020, an arbitrator chosen by Cowboys for Trump agreed with the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office determination that Cowboys for Trump fell under the definition of a political action committee.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver sent a final action letter to Cowboys for Trump founders Couy Griffin and Kay Griffin. The letter stated that the Secretary of State's Office had determined Cowboys for Trump to be a political committee and that reports needed to be filed and fines were accruing.

The organization chose to appeal the finding in District court.

Couy Griffin serves as District 2 Otero County Commissioner and Otero County Commission Vice Chairman.

Nicole Maxwell can be contacted by email at nmaxwell@alamogordonews.com, by phone at 575-415-6605 or on Twitter at @nicmaxreporter.