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Colorado officials evaluate complaint that Boebert used campaign funds to pay off tax liens on restaurant

Candidate reported driving nearly 39,000 miles, a nearly impossible distance during given time period
Lauren Boebert, Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District, at the DoubleTree Hotel on Sept. 15, 2020, in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Colorado officials will review an allegation that Rep. Lauren Boebert falsified mileage reports during 2020 and used reimbursements from her campaign fund to pay off tax liens on her restaurant.

The American Muckrakers PAC – the same group that released compromising videos of Rep. Madison Cawthorn that may have aided in his recent primary defeat – wrote to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office about the matter on June 1, as first reported by The New York Times.

The office reached out to the Colorado Department of Revenue and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for investigative support on the issue, Janet Drake, the deputy Colorado attorney general for criminal justice, wrote in a June 7 email to Muckraker founder David Wheeler.

The allegations stem from an April 2020 quarterly campaign finance report and December 2020 post-general report that show two payments totaling $22,259 made to Boebert, a Republican from Silt, from her own campaign for mileage reimbursement. That total equates to nearly 39,000 miles driven using the Internal Revenue Service’s mileage rate, a nearly impossible distance to drive during the time period.

An amended report lowered the reimbursement amount to $17,280 and listed other travel expenses such as hotel rooms.

In late 2020, Boebert also paid off nearly $20,000 in state tax liens against her restaurant, the firearm-themed Shooters Grill in Rifle.

A combination of liens totaling about $19,000 were satisfied on Oct. 22, 2020. The largest mileage reimbursement payment of about $21,200 is dated Nov. 11, 2020, in the finance report.

The American Muckrakers PAC believes Boebert used that campaign reimbursement to pay the liens, which would be illegal.

“As you are both fully aware, utilizing an illegal source of funds or ill-gotten funds to pay off a tax lien is illegal in Colorado and under federal law,” Wheeler wrote in his initial letter to Attorney General Phil Weiser and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Joseph Barela.

“In other words, you cannot use federal campaign funds to pay off your tax liens by reimbursing yourself for miles you didn’t drive. That is the very definition of ill-gotten funds,” he wrote. “We believe Rep. Boebert did exactly this. Where did she get the funds to pay off this lien is the ultimate question?”

While the Muckrakers posted a PDF of all related documents, including the email Drake sent to him about involving the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor and Employment, Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesperson for the attorney general, declined to confirm the involved agencies. He wrote in an email that the office “referred (the complaint) to the appropriate agencies to evaluate the allegations and whether any legal actions are justified, which is our standard practice.”

The PDF also includes a Newsline story about Boebert’s payment of the taxes.

Boebert refuted the allegations.

“This is another swing and miss from a partisan political group,” she said in a statement emailed by her campaign. “These false charges from 2020 have already been dismissed by the Federal Election Commission and disproven by the press. I represent over 50,000 square miles of Colorado; I connect with the people I serve rather than sitting at home in a basement like most Leftists.”

The Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint about the mileage reimbursement issue earlier this year.

Boebert, a controversial freshman representative known for her inflammatory remarks, is running for re-election in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. She faces a primary challenger in state Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose.

“Our coalition of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated Coloradans are urging all voters and citizens to review the documents we’ve filed, then ask Boebert why she covered up this illegal activity and used donor money to pay her taxes? We hope voters will help us fire Boebert by supporting Don Coram for Congress. He’s sane and pays his taxes on time, every time,” Wheeler said in a statement.

To read more stories from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.