A three member Republican county commission in Otero County, New Mexico, refused to certify the results of the 2022 primary election, citing discredited concerns regarding Dominion Voting Systems. Members of the Republican-led commission have histories of pushing extremist rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
The Otero County Commission is made up of alleged insurrectionist and “Cowboys for Trump” founder Couy Griffin, Vickie Marquardt, and Gerald Matherly. Griffin has a longstanding history of appearing on QAnon shows, pushing conspiracy theories, and threatening political opponents with physical violence, including saying that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”
A Media Matters review found social media posts that contain antisemitism and conspiracy theories from Commissioner Marquardt as well. The third member, Commissioner Matherly, does not appear to have the same history of antisemitism, conspiracy-mongering, and violent threats as his peers on the commission, based on a review of his social media posts.
During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”
Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”
County commissioner Vickie Marquardt has a history of sharing conspiracy theories on her Facebook page.
In June 2019, Marquardt shared an antisemtic post that describes Hungarian-American billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust suvivor George Soros as an “ex-Nazi” who wants to “destory the USA.”
The post claims that Soros “owns Antifa, most of the members of congress, Black Lives Matter, and ACORN.”
In December 2019, Marquardt posted an image claiming that President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), all have children who work for Ukrainian gas companies.
This claim is false.
Marquardt shared a post about “white slavery” that claimed, “The first slaves shipped to the American colonies in 1619 were 100 white children from Ireland.”
This claim is not true.
Couy Griffin is a conspiracy theorist and far-right zealot who has a history of pushing extremist rhetoric. He is the founder of Cowboys for Trump and an alleged insurrectionist who was present at the January 6 Capitol riot. Griffin stands accused of knowingly entering restricted Capitol grounds and “disorderly and disruptive conduct.”
He also spread conspiracy theories about the riot, telling CNN that he believes that Ashli Babbitt, the alleged rioter who was shot as she broke into the Capitol, and Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died the day after from a stroke, are still alive.
Prior to the insurrection, Griffin appeared numerous times on Fox News to push anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric. In one instance, Griffin appeared on Fox to complain that New Mexico is “getting overrun right now with immigrants.”
In 2020, Griffin asserted that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” while speaking in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Griffin also claimed that Governors Ralph Northam (D-VA) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) should be charged with treason and punished. “You get to pick your poison: you either go before a firing squad, or you get the end of the rope,” Griffin said during an interview.
Griffin has appeared on QAnon shows Patriots’ Soapbox, The Mel K Show, and MG Show, alongside appearing at a QAnon conference where he proudly led the crowd in chanting the QAnon slogan “Where we go one we go all.”
Griffin also appeared in an interview with pro-Putin conspiracy theorist Stew Peters.
During his interview with Peters, Griffin claimed that “Antifa” was “embedded” in the insurrection crowd. This is a false claim. Griffin also asserted that he was targeted by the FBI because he is the founder of Cowboys for Trump.
Why This Matters
Dominion voting machines have been the centerpiece of right-wing election fraud conspiracy theories since the 2020 election. These conspiracy theories do not appear to be dissipating, and will likely shape local and national elections in 2022 and 2024.
The Otero County commissioners refusing to certify the 2022 primary election results is a microcosm of a national political crisis in which extremists, election deniers, and conspiracy theorists are infiltrating positions that control local elections. These extremists are endangering the right to vote and the peaceful transfer of power with their conspiracy theories, resulting in an existential threat to American democracy.