Colorado state authorities are beginning an investigation of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) after receiving a complaint regarding potential financial misconduct that was filed by the American Muckrakers PAC — which helped lead the ultimately successful recent charge to defeat Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) in his attempt to secure a second term. For now, Boebert and Cawthorn are both in their first terms — and often seem more interested in attention than legislating.
Boebert’s issue has been passed off to an interagency group in Colorado’s government. Janet Drake, who’s the deputy attorney general for criminal justice in Colorado, indicated that the state Justice Department would investigate the matter with the assistance of the state’s Department of Revenue and Department of Labor and Employment. And Lawrence Pacheco, who works as a spokesman for the Colorado attorney general, confirmed an interagency group would be investigating the potential misconduct on Boebert’s part “to evaluate the allegations and whether legal actions are justified.”
The American Muckrakers PAC apparently accuses Boebert of using mileage reimbursement money from her campaign to pay off tax liens associated with her restaurant, Shooters Grill. Using “an illegal source of funds or ill-gotten funds to pay off a tax lien is illegal in Colorado and under federal law,” the group’s complaint says.
There were eight liens in total, with a complete value of $20,000. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment filed the liens from August 2016 to February 2020 because of a failure to pay required unemployment premiums associated with Boebert’s business. The mileage claimed by the Boebert campaign itself adds to the air of suspicion: the Boebert campaign originally claimed 38,712 miles of campaign travel — an astronomical and frankly unrealistic amount. Boebert received a pair of checks from her campaign, with a total value of $22,259, covering reimbursements for miles supposedly traveled while conducting campaign work. Aides to Boebert claim she “paid off the tax liens before the reimbursements reached her bank account,” The New York Times summarizes.
The Boebert campaign eventually admitted the money for supposed mileage reimbursements covered other expenses such as hotel rooms, although the campaign still tied $17,280 of the original $22,259 to mileage reimbursements. “This is not an attack on Lauren Boebert… Had Representative Boebert paid her restaurant staff properly and also paid the unemployment premiums to the State of Colorado, an investigation never would have been necessary,” Wheeler said. (“The payment of unemployment benefits is funded through employer premiums,” Colorado authorities explained. “Employers are required to pay premiums through a quarterly premium-report and wage-report process.” Boebert evidently failed to pay the required costs.)
Election Day in the GOP primary for Boebert’s seat is June 28. She’s facing state Sen. Don Coram, who’s spoken against those who “act more like out-of-touch celebrities than members of Congress.” Boebert has actually been mired in various financial issues before. Boebert was previously revealed to have failed to disclose her husband’s substantial income when initially running for Congress. Boebert also charged thousands of dollars worth of her personal rent and utility expenses to her campaign, although her team claimed that was a mistake and the campaign was reimbursed. The American Muckrakers PAC’s co-founder David B. Wheeler recently stated: “I think we’re going to go after Lauren Boebert in Colorado in a similar way [to the Cawthorn race]… I think we’re going to engage in that race pretty quickly.”