Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin is under investigation after a series of Facebook posts on the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page suggested that he had illegally used taxpayer dollars to fund their political activities. Griffin was reimbursed for a recent trip to DC, costing taxpayers $2,000 more than his fellow County Commissioner’s travel for the same trip.
“It’s not surprising that an organization dedicated to supporting Donald Trump would be willing to use taxpayer dollars for personal and political gain,” said DPNM Chair Marg Elliston. “This disregard for the law and for the taxpayers who fund the Otero County Commission is both illegal and immoral. Otero County residents deserve to know the full story here, and Republicans who have worked with Cowboys for Trump should be the first to support this investigation.”
Read the full story on Griffin’s alleged misuse of county funds:
The Office of the State Auditor said it is examining whether a travel reimbursement made to Otero County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin violated state law.
Griffin traveled to Washington, D.C. in part to attend a Sept. 12 conference with representatives from western states including New Mexico, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.
The reimbursement included mileage for the trip made while hauling a horse trailer, and was issued to Griffin on Sept. 26 for more than $3,200.
“Taking his horse trailer would never be a justifiable taxpayer expense,” State Department of Finance and Administration Local Government Division Special Director Michael Steininger said via email.
Fellow Otero County Commissioner Lori Bies’ travel voucher for the same trip, obtained via Inspection of Public Records request, was for $1,094 to cover airfare, room, meals, mileage and transport.
Griffin said that while he initially did not believe the reimbursement was an issue, further consultation with county leaders revealed that the reimbursement may have violated state law, as his land travel exceeded Bies’ by more than $2,000.
At the Oct. 10 meeting of the Otero County Commission, the commission unanimously approved a $5,000 increase to Griffin’s travel expenses.
An Oct.13 post to the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page read: “We are so grateful for the Otero County Commission for increasing our travel budget, but we’d still love to do more!”
New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Melanie Majors said that might constitute an anti-donation violation, as the resolution was made to fund Griffin’s travel expenses related to county business, and not Cowboys for Trump.