Democrat Stephanie Dubois has been tapped by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to replace Couy Griffin on the Otero County Commission, according to the Alamogordo Daily News. The Governor’s Office, however, has not officially announced the appointment and says it is not yet finalized, as paperwork is still being completed.
“The review process is ongoing and is expected to be done shortly,” said Nora Sackett, the governor’s spokesperson.
Dubois is also a candidate for the District 2 seat on the commission, the position Griffin vacated.
If she fills Griffin’s seat — either by appointment or election — she might end up weighing whether to recover the salary he was paid as a commissioner over the last year and a half.
According to the District Judge Francis J. Mathew’s ruling on Sept. 6, 2022, the Cowboys for Trump co-founder was disqualified from holding public office by participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 siege on the U.S. Capitol.
As of that date, former Commissioner Griffin became disqualified under the U.S. Constitution from serving in any elected position, the ruling states.
At Thursday’s commission meeting, Otero County resident John Davis called on the officials to look into recouping Griffin’s salary for the time period between Jan. 6, 2021 and Sept. 6, 2022.
“Since he was not qualified to hold that office, during the time he was paid on Jan. 6 (2021) to Sept. 6 (2022) — a total of 20 months salary as a Otero county commissioner — that comes to $40,907.50 that he received that he was not qualified to receive,” Davis told the commission on Thursday.
Republican Commissioner Gerald Matherly said that they wouldn’t weigh in on the issue until after the appellate court ruled on Griffin’s appeal, but he added that he wasn’t inclined to support an effort to recover Griffin’s previous salary.
Despite not being qualified to hold the commissioner seat at the time, “he still took time off of his regular job to attend meetings and meet with residents,” Matherly said.
“He did work for the county during that time, which I think he needs to be paid for,” Matherly added.
Examining his votes
The county is also reviewing all issues where Griffin cast a deciding vote during the time period in which he was not a qualified commissioner, Davis said.
The Otero County Commission is made up of three members, so any 2-to-1 vote where Griffin voted in the majority could be subject to review. These votes include a lawsuit against the secretary of state, a vote to remove ballot drop boxes and a budget increase for the gun range ammunition.
Later in the meeting, Jessica Aguilar, also spoke against the push to recover the dispersed salary funds.
Despite Griffin’s engagement in the Jan 6 insurrection not being a part of his official commission duties, he requested the county provide him with legal representation, which the county declined.
He was “not treated fairly and was shut out by his fellow commissioners,” Aguilar said, reading from a prepared transcript on her mobile phone.
The commissioners called a special meeting to vote on an official position from Otero County, according to Aguilar.
“Instead of scheduling an executive session, a public meeting was scheduled, even when you said you weren’t going to take any public comments,” Aguilar said addressing the commissioners.
In addition to opposing the efforts to recover the money spent on the former commissioner’s salary, Aguilar said the money spent on the Otero County attorney was an even graver misuse of public dollars, adding that the lawyer “ doesn’t fight for commissioners’ or the people of Otero County’s rights,” Aguilar said.
Former Alamogordo Police Officer Bob Heisinger, also spoke against attempting to recoup the salary money.
“Couy earned those funds. He was rightfully employed, and did his job,” Heisinger said.
He added that he didn’t think this was a fight the county really wants to have.
“‘If you don’t start none, there won’t be none,’” Heisinger said. “If we don’t start a fight, we don’t have to contend with the battle, and I don’t think this is a battle the county or this commission wants to undertake.”
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