WASHINGTON — Colorado officials are investigating allegations that Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican who represents the western half of the state, inflated the mileage she logged on the campaign trail in 2020 and subsequently used more than $20,000 in donor repayments to pay off years of tax liens on her restaurant.
The allegations have circulated in liberal circles since The Denver Post first reported in February 2021 that Ms. Boebert had cashed two checks from her campaign totaling $22,259 for mileage reimbursement. The number corresponded to 38,712 miles — more than the planet’s 24,901 mile circumference.
But the same group that unleashed a deluge of unflattering information about Rep. Madison Cawthorn last month that helped beat his North Carolina second term bid has taken the matter to the Colorado Attorney General’s office, which has announced it. referred for an inter-agency investigation.
Janet Drake, the state’s deputy attorney general for criminal justice, told David B. Wheeler, one of the founders of the U.S. Muckrakers PAC, on Tuesday that her department would work with the Colorado Department of Revenue and Department of Labor and Employment ” to investigate the problem.”
Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for the Colorado Attorney General, confirmed that the case had been forwarded to a group of several agencies “to evaluate the allegations and whether legal action is warranted.” He said the Attorney General, Philip J. Weiser, a Democrat, would have no further comment.
Ms Boebert’s first responders said on Wednesday that she had accounted for the miles she had recorded. The campaign revised the initial total under scrutiny, but that was because other reimbursable travel expenses, such as hotel expenses, had been combined with mileage.
And, they said, she paid the tax liens before the refunds reached her bank account.
Campaign finance research can be notoriously slow, and it’s unlikely to yield any conclusions before the Colorado primary on June 28. Ms. Boebert, a right-wing freshman known for her performative antics and confrontational outbursts, faces state senator Don Coram, who is campaigning against “edge leaders” who “behave more like out-of-touch celebrities than members of Congress. ” The investigation may not gain much traction before the November general election.
Perhaps more troubling for Ms. Boebert is the attention of the Muckrakers PAC, which released a series of sexually explicit videos of Mr. Cawthorn and negative testimonials from the congressman’s former aides that led to his defeat in the Republican primary in North Carolina last year. year. month.
“Colorado deserves more than an irresponsible, vociferous member of Congress,” said Mr Wheeler, the chairman of the PAC. “Maybe it’s time for Boebert to look for another job.”
At the heart of the investigation are eight Colorado Department of Labor and Employment tax liens totaling $20,000, filed from August 2016 to February 2020 against Ms. Boebert for failing to pay unemployment insurance contributions for her company, Shooters Grill.
At the end of 2020, Ms. Boebert reimbursed herself for the miles of the 2020 campaign and paid off the liens.
“As you are both fully aware, using any illegal source of money or ill-gotten money to pay off a tax bill is illegal in Colorado and under federal law,” the Muckrakers complaint to the attorney general told the AP. adding, “That is the very definition of ill-gotten funds.”
Colorado Public Radio tracked Ms. Boebert’s 2020 campaign’s 129 public events, from Denver to Grand Junction to Pueblo, Colorado. Even assuming she was driving there and back to each event from her home in Silt, Colo. close together, the analysis fell about 9,000 miles below the nearly 39,000 miles claimed. The coronavirus pandemic also halted several months of the 2020 campaign.
Under control, Ms. Boebert’s campaign later modified her claims to say the mileage allowance also included other travel expenses and hotel rooms, though it still stated $17,280 in mileage allowances.
Complaints to the Federal Election Commission have been unsuccessful, and a House Ethics Committee attorney declined to say whether the panel was investigating the matter. However, Colorado’s Democratic Attorney General could be more sympathetic.
“This is not an attack on Lauren Boebert,” Mr. Wheeler insisted. “If Representative Boebert had properly paid her restaurant staff and also paid unemployment insurance contributions to the state of Colorado, an investigation would never have been necessary.”