Rep. Lauren Boebert Subtracts 7,000 Miles From Her Campaign Claim, Saying She Spent Money At Hotels Instead

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
GOP businesswoman Lauren Boebert, running for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd District, stopped by her campaign headquarters, and Shooter’s, the restaurant she owns in Rifle, on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.

The campaign of GOP Congresswoman Lauren Boebert amended its campaign finance filing for a mileage reimbursement after the payment of more than $21,000 raised eyebrows and led critics to file complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics. 

Boebert originally reimbursed herself $21,199.52 for mileage driven between April 1 and early November, which would have reflected nearly 37,000 miles driven. The amended document now lists only $17,280 for mileage or about 30,000 miles.

The candidate still claimed the same total reimbursement for transportation. The amended report simply reclassifies about $3,900 from “mileage” to more specific reimbursements for hotel stays and Uber rides.

According to the updated filing, the campaign reimbursed Boebert about $867 for Uber rides taken between Sept. 25 and Nov. 7 and $3,053 for hotels.

The amended report detailed four hotel stays in Pueblo and Durango from February through October. Those stays only covered about two-thirds of the reported lodging cost, but campaigns only have to itemize for hotels costing more than $200.

Still, the changes raised new questions.

Campaign audit could come soon

“If they thought that this amended report would clear up the mileage reimbursement issue, I’m afraid they were mistaken,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer with Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg in Washington, D.C. 

Kappel, a leading expert in campaign finance with more than 30 years experience, said the amended report “will likely generate a letter from the FEC Reports Analysis Division asking why these expenses were not disclosed on the original report.”

Depending on the campaign’s response, the issue could be referred to the Enforcement Division for an investigation or to the Audit Division for an audit of the campaign. Campaigns are required to keep detailed logs to support their mileage claims, although they don’t have to submit those details in their regular reports.

Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior director of ethics for the Campaign Legal Center, said the issue is whether reporting incorrect information was a simple mistake or intentional.

“The Office of Congressional Ethics and FEC will not likely assume that someone mistakenly reported lodging expenses as mileage,” Payne said. Like Kappel, he thinks this amendment “raises more questions than it answers.

And a couple of groups that filed complaints say they still want to see the records.

“Either she didn’t keep the required mileage logs or her treasurer didn’t ask for documentation before he reimbursed her for all of these expenses,” said Michelle Kuppersmith, executive director with the Campaign for Accountability, a campaign finance watchdog group. Kuppersmith’s group filed a complaint with the FEC over the mileage reimbursement.  

“Clearly, the FEC should audit the campaign because its FEC reports are completely unreliable,” she said.

Boebert says she under-reported "a lot of stuff"

Boebert’s campaign has not responded to requests for comment. In an interview with radio host Ross Kaminsky on 630 KHOW, she said that fires over the summer added extra miles to her travel. A trip from Rifle to Edwards grew from 40 minutes to seven hours, she said.

“I drove tens of thousands of miles all throughout the district. I was somewhere new every single day,” she said in the Feb. 10 interview. “I am doing the work of the people. I had to make those connections, and really, I under-reported a lot of stuff.”

She said that she had documentation she could provide to authorities but wasn’t enthusiastic to provide it to journalists.

“Maybe if I liked them, I would show them a little something,” she said.

CPR News reporters documented nearly 130 of Boebert’s public appearances and calculated that, if she had driven round-trip each day from her in the town of Silt, she could have reached 30,000 miles.

Boebert did not modify an earlier claim for nearly 2,000 miles of driving.

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