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Boebert rakes in $21,000 for campaign gas after paying off liens on Shooters Grill business

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February 9, 2021, 6:38 am

Already under intense scrutiny for tweeting “Today is 1776” the morning of the U.S. Capitol attack that killed five and led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert now finds herself in a growing scandal involving campaign mileage and liens on her business.

While perhaps not quite as damning as allegedly helping incite an insurrection, Boebert’s alleged “Mileage-gate” misconduct on Monday drew a call from at least one left-leaning watchdog group for a full investigation by the Federal Election Commission.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert

This story first broke a month after Boebert beat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 3 election to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes the majority of Eagle County. That was after Boebert shocked everyone by beating five-term incumbent Republican Scott Tipton in the June primary. Here’s a synopsis of the story from the Colorado Pols website:

“Back in December, Colorado Pols first reported on suspiciously large mileage reimbursements from Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign account, pocketing over $21,000 in one lump sum on November 11th alone – compared to Rep. Scott Tipton reimbursing for about $10,000 during his entire decade in office. The Denver Post followed up this story last week, and determined through their analysis that Boebert’s mileage reimbursements were both atypical and questionable. Last Friday, Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff ran a separate story about Boebert paying off just under $20,000 tax liens filed against her business Shooters Grill in Rifle in late October. Boebert’s tax liens being paid off just a couple of weeks before Boebert’s mileage payday in nearly the same amount raised new questions in our minds …”

Boebert tweeted on Feb. 3: “My district is one of the largest in the country. Rather than campaign from my basement, I went to meet my constituents face to face. Glad the media wrote a story about the hard work I put into my campaign. It’s that same energy I’ve brought to represent those who elected me!”

Mileage-gate has prompted a series of tweets and campaign email blasts from Eagle County rancher, former Vail Town Councilmember and current state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat who recently announced she’s challenging Boebert for CD3 in 2022.

Sen. Kerry Donovan

On Feb. 6 Donovan tweeted: “We need 100 people to donate $22 apiece. To Lauren Boebert, $2,200 would cover almost a full day of mileage reimbursements.”

On Feb. 7 Donovan tweeted: “Lauren Boebert thinks $1,400 relief checks for Colorado families are a ‘pipe dream.’ But she didn’t blink when it came to giving herself $22,000 for gas.”

That same day Donovan followed up with this tweet: “On the other hand, I suppose we can’t rule out the possibility that she circumnavigated the district 38 times and just didn’t tell anyone. #boebertRoadTrip”

Then in a Feb. 8 email blast, Donovan wrote: “Lauren Boebert has called $1,400 COVID relief checks for Colorado families a ‘boondoggle’ and a ‘pipe dream.’ But Boebert didn’t blink when it came to reimbursing herself over $22,000 for ‘mileage reimbursements.’ We can’t let her win re-election.”

Donovan did not mention the suspicious timing of Boebert paying off nearly the same amount in liens on her business. Boebert’s office did not reply to an email request for comment.

Campaign for Accountability (CfA) did make the connection in the following press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Representative Lauren Boebert and her campaign for using campaign funds to reimburse herself over $21,000, allegedly for mileage. Boebert’s campaign also failed to maintain required records of her expenses.

CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Rep. Boebert’s mileage claim doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s also quite a coincidence that the amount she reimbursed herself is just a little more than the $19,000 in liens she repaid in October 2020.”

According to FEC filings, Lauren Boebert for Congress reimbursed Lauren Boebert an exorbitant $21,199.52 for personal vehicle mileage over a seven-month period, which, at the standard reimbursement rate of 57.5 cents per mile, equates to 36,868 miles driven. It also appears that Rep. Boebert’s campaign failed to maintain required mileage logs that would support the legitimacy of the charges.

Read the complaint.

While Rep. Boebert’s district is relatively large, its size still does not seem to account for the mileage reimbursed to her from the campaign. In an independent review, The Denver Post catalogued all 80 public events Rep. Boebert hosted in her district in 2020 and “used global positioning software to calculate the distance driven to, from, and between them – assuming Boebert attended every event on the schedule and began and ended each day at her home in Silt.” The paper calculated Rep. Boebert could have driven a maximum of 17,623 miles on campaign travel for all of 2020 – less than half of what she claimed to have driven in just seven months.

Rep. Boebert received more in personal travel reimbursements in a single year than her predecessor, Rep. Scott Tipton, received over a ten-year period.  Remarkably, during this same seven-month period, Rep. Boebert paid off $18,999.36 in liens against her business, Shooters Grill, a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado. Rep. Boebert has failed to respond to reporters who have asked how the liens were paid off.

Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “The law prohibits candidates from converting campaign funds to their personal use. Rep. Boebert’s conduct is reminiscent of Tea Party darling and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who was sued by the FEC in 2015, after the commission found she had spent $20,000 on living expenses. The FEC must investigate and hold Rep. Boebert accountable.”

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