A nonprofit watchdog group has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), requesting an investigation into more than $20,000 in mileage reimbursements the candidate received from her 2020 campaign.
The group, Campaign for Accountability, said Monday that Boebert and Mike McCauley, the treasurer of Lauren Boebert for Congress, may have violated FEC regulations by spending campaign funds for personal purposes.
At issue are two mileage reimbursement payments to Boebert from her campaign: one on March 31, 2020, for $1,059.62, and another, filed Nov. 11, for $21,199.52.
It’s the second payment that’s raising eyebrows. At the federal reimbursement rate of 57.5 cents per mile, Boebert would have had to drive 36,868 miles in seven months to justify the amount. To put that in perspective, that’s about one and a half times the circumference of the earth, 24,850 miles.
Boebert’s campaign appears to have failed to keep adequate records of the candidate’s expenses and has been unable to substantiate the mileage reimbursement, the complaint alleges. The campaign declined several requests from Colorado media outlets to provide evidence of her travel.
Adding to the intrigue: Colorado Newsline reports Boebert’s gun-themed restaurant, Shooter’s Grill, owed nearly $20,000 for several years’ worth of back taxes, related to unpaid unemployment insurance premiums. The liens were paid off in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
“Rep. Boebert’s mileage claim doesn’t pass the smell test,” CFA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said in an emailed statement. “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.”
For comparison’s sake, FEC records show Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican who held the seat for 10 years before Boebert ousted him in 2020, only reported around $10,000 in campaign travel expenses over that time, including airfare.
When Tipton first ran for office in 2006 (he lost), he reported 17,576 in mileage over the first two quarters of that year ― less than half Boebert’s claims over a similar timeframe.
Tipton lives in Cortez, in the far southwestern corner of the state, while Boebert’s residence in Silt is more centrally located, so it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Given the circumstances, though, Tipton arguably would have traveled more than Boebert ― not less.
A Denver Post analysis of Boebert’s 80 public events, as recorded on the “Events” section of her Facebook page, concluded she would have had to travel 17,623 miles to attend all of them, assuming the candidate drove round trip each day from her home in Silt, Colorado.
All those daily round trips ― and their accompanying mileage ― are a big assumption. Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District covers 50,000 square miles; on long-distance trips with multiple events to attend, it’s well within the realm of possibility that Boebert stayed in a hotel.
The campaign disputed The Post’s assessment, which it claims only accounted for “a small sampling” of Boebert’s events.
A second analysis, undertaken by Colorado Public Radio, tallied 129 campaign appearances and a possible 30,000 miles traveled. Like the Post, CPR assumed Boebert drove round trip from her home every day. CPR’s count also assumed Boebert drove directly from one event to the other if they took place on the same day.
Boebert’s office did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost regarding the mileage reimbursement, the FEC complaint, or how the tax liens were paid off.