THURSDAY UPDATE #2: Open mouth, insert foot:
Hypocrisy 101: @IlhanMN cites my legitimate mileage reimbursements while she paid her husband* over $1 million in campaign consulting fees.
*Not her brother, the new husband.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) February 4, 2021
THURSDAY UPDATE: This story is everywhere. Here are just a few of the links:
♦ The Independent (United Kingdom)
Back in December, we took note of exceptionally large reimbursements paid to Rep. Lauren Boebert from her campaign accounts for mileage supposedly racked up while campaigning around the admittedly sizable Third Congressional District spanning much of the western and southern reaches of the state. Even considering distances driving around her rural district, Boebert’s $22,000 check to herself was a dramatic increase over what her predecessor Rep. Scott Tipton billed, more in one year that Tipton had in a decade.
As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones who found the idea that Boebert racked up almost 39,000 miles running for Congress hard to swallow. As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports today after doing his journalistic due diligence, the huge reimbursements you read about here first could actually be a problem worth investigating:
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… [Pols emphasis]
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.
The Post took the basic question and put it to the test–and by their reckoning from Boebert’s public events calculated by mapping drive times, they were able to account for around 17,600 plausible miles driven. That’s still a lot of driving, and would make for a hefty reimbursement consistent with what Wingerter reports Rep. Don Young who represents the entire state of Alaska billed his campaign for mileage in 2020. But it still only accounts for about half of what Boebert reimbursed herself.
It’s a big district, and it’s true that Boebert energetically stumped in the 2020 campaign, ill-advisedly (at least from a public health standpoint) campaigning in person despite the raging pandemic that kept her opponent mostly at home campaigning via Zoom. But put in context either with her predecessor or others running for Congress in big districts, Boebert’s reimbursements for enough driven miles to circle the globe 1.5 times still don’t add up. And that could mean even more trouble for Rep. Boebert in less than a month in office–this time from the Ethics Office and/or the Federal Election Commission.
It’s just the latest question involving Rep. Boebert that doesn’t make sense unless it’s exactly what it looks like.