Rep. Lauren Boebert “raises red flags” with mileage reimbursements, ethics experts say

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert paid herself more than $22,000 in mileage reimbursements from her campaign account last year. Boebert’s campaign defends the reimbursements but three ethics experts who reviewed the money transfers for The Denver Post say they raise questions.

Candidates for federal office can legally reimburse themselves for miles driven in personal vehicles using the Internal Revenue Service’s mileage rate, which was 57.5 cents per mile for 2020. The Republican congresswoman from western Colorado wrote two checks totaling $22,259 from her campaign coffers for mileage between January and mid-November.

To justify those reimbursements, Boebert would have had to drive 38,712 miles while campaigning, despite having no publicly advertised campaign events in March, April or July, and only one in May. Furthermore, because the reimbursements came in two payments — a modest $1,060 at the end of March and $21,200 on Nov. 11 — Boebert would have had to drive 36,870 miles in just over seven months between April 1 and Nov. 11 to justify the second payment.

“This highly unusual amount of mileage expenses raises red flags and the campaign should feel obligated to provide answers,” said Kedric Payne, a former investigator for the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body in Congress that examines misconduct allegations.

Boebert’s former campaign manager and her finance director declined to comment or provide evidence Boebert drove nearly 39,000 miles last year. In a statement, her campaign defended the reimbursements, saying Boebert ran a grassroots campaign and traveled often.

“She traveled to every nook and cranny of the district to speak with and hear from the people about their concerns. They say showing up is 90% of the battle and Lauren always showed up. Her aggressive travel schedule is a big reason she won,” the statement said.

Boebert’s reimbursements to herself in one year eclipse her predecessor’s reimbursements over 10 years. Republican Rep. Scott Tipton reimbursed himself $9,797 from campaign coffers for all travel expenses — including airfare — during a decade representing the same district. He also reimbursed himself $9,575 from his office account for mileage in that time period.

For further comparison, U.S. Rep. Don Young, who represents the largest district in the country — the entire state of Alaska — reimbursed himself $9,965 for all travel, including airfare, from his campaign account last year.

The Post catalogued all 80 public events Boebert hosted across the massive 3rd Congressional District last year — as recorded on the “Events” tab of her Facebook page — and used global positioning software to calculate the distance driven to, from and between them — assuming Boebert attended every event on the schedule and began and ended each day at her home in Silt.

Boebert, a prolific in-person campaigner, traveled 17,623 miles between public events last year, according to the Post’s analysis. In its statement, the campaign said the Facebook events were only “a small sampling” of her campaign calendar and did not include every “meeting, fundraiser or campaign event.”

Boebert’s payments were publicly disclosed in Federal Election Commission filings and first published by the Democratic blog Colorado Pols. No formal complaints about the reimbursements have been publicly reported. Both the FEC and Office of Congressional Ethics have jurisdiction if there was a violation.

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