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Our View: Ethics

Lauren Boebert’s tardy disclosure shows spouse earns big from oil and gas industry

Our elected officials have a great deal of power when it comes to passing laws, spending taxpayer money and otherwise controlling our collective lives. It is of utmost importance that we be able to trust those people to make decisions that – while they may not agree with our opinions – are free of outside influences, particularly financial ones.

This is the argument against unlimited and hidden campaign contributions to candidates. Too many elected officials, time has shown, lack the moral standards to resist temptation – that is, they vote to please those from whom they have received and/or hope to receive money. This is why all government agencies and professional organizations have ethical codes of conduct that restrict or prevent certain behaviors in order to ensure the public trust.

Our Congressional Rep. Lauren Boebert’s behavior in office has been deplorable on many counts.

But recent revelations by numerous media outlets show her behavior to be more than embarrassing. Articles in the Colorado Sun, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, Salon and other respected media outlets document her lapses in civility and ethics.

According to the U.S. House Committee on Ethics Financial Disclosure Guide’s section on Reporting of Spouse and Dependent Child Financial Information, “You are required to disclose certain information concerning the income, assets, liabilities, and other information of your spouse and dependent children.”

Only last week did Boebert disclose her husband Jayson’s income from Terra Energy Partners, a Houston-based oil and gas production firm that paid him $460,601 in 2019 and $478,386 in 2020. She previously wrote “NA” (not applicable) on a form where that information would have been included.

Clearly, her husband’s earnings comprise the bulk of the family’s income (besides her $174,000 salary as a representative). According to filings reported in the Colorado Sun, her Rifle restaurant, Shooters Grill, lost $226,234 last year and $143,233 in 2019.

Boebert sits on the House Natural Resources Committee and has been a vociferous advocate of the oil and gas industry in Colorado. She opposed President Biden’s moratorium on new drilling leases on public lands.

She has made no secret of her support for oil and gas and has acknowledged her husband has long worked in the industry, but the recent revelations suggest she does not understand or refuses to abide by House ethics rules.

This is not a surprise. In aggregate, Boebert’s behavior has long demonstrated a lack of respect for the rule of law and for authority in general, mimicking her hero, former President Donald Trump. She has refused to wear a mask in the House; insisted she can carry her gun into the chamber, despite the rule against it; defied the sergeant at arms on Jan. 6 by revealing the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on social media; and more.

Even if reporting her husband’s income was not required, an ethical elected official would choose to do so in order to dispel any suggestion of moral turpitude.

But Boebert does not respect the institution to which she has been elected nor the people she represents. In failing to do so, she rejects the very principles of the conservatism she professes to embrace.

Respect for authority is correlated with favorability toward law enforcement, and ideological conservatives are about three times as likely as liberals to have respect for authority, according to the Respect for Authority Index.

Not Boebert; she voted against honoring the Capitol police with medals for their efforts to protect the Capitol Jan. 6.

Conflict of interest: “A term used to describe the situation in which a public official or fiduciary who, contrary to the obligation and absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public or a designated individual, exploits the relationship for personal benefit, typically pecuniary.”

Do the recent revelations show that Boebert has a conflict of interest because of her husband’s source of income? Voters will decide when she runs for re-election in 2022. More will be revealed, of that we are certain.

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