THURSDAY UPDATE: This story is getting lots of national attention.
Forbes’ Zach Everson reports the latest twist in the case of several thousand dollars in Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign funds that were erroneously (?) used for a then-unspecified recurring personal expense–a discrepancy that the Federal Election Commission asked Boebert to fully document in August.
In a revised campaign finance filing yesterday, Boebert revealed the purpose of these “mistaken” expenses was rent and utilities for the Shooters Grill in Rifle:
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) used campaign funds to pay rent and utilities bills, according to a filing her campaign made Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. The submission claims the lawmaker already has reimbursed the campaign and that those transactions will appear on a report due in October…
On Tuesday…the campaign submitted an amended report for that quarter. Two of the disbursements, each for $2,000, are now described as “Rent billed to campaign via Venmo in error,” while the other two were categorized as “rent/utilities.” The document reiterated that all four transactions have been reimbursed.
After each Venmo disbursement, the updated filing now includes payments with the same amounts, dates and descriptions to someone named John Pacheco, whose address is listed as 120 E. Third Street, in Rifle, Colorado. That’s the same address as Shooters Grill, a restaurant that Boebert owns.
This most recent disclosure is problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s very difficult to believe that two consecutive months of rent and utilities for the Shooter’s Grill was mistakenly charged to the campaign account. There’s just no good reason for that to have happened, certainly not twice, implying an improper comingling of the books at the very least–and even though the campaign was later reimbursed, we’re talking about a de facto interest-free loan for whatever the period was between the original charge and the reimbursement. That’s why the FEC specifically stated in their letter to Boebert that there could still be penalties even if the money was paid back.
And that brings us to the second problem. After it was belatedly disclosed that Jayson Boebert is being paid multiples of what should be the salary for his job at Terra Energy Partners–over a million dollars in compensation going back to at least 2019 if the new filings are to be believed–why would the Boeberts need to tap the campaign account to pay their personal bills? It’s a similar question to the one we asked about Boebert’s outsized mileage reimbursements from the 2020 campaign, which Boebert cashed out shortly after paying off a $20,000 tax lien against the Shooter’s Grill.
Many unanswered questions, and each “amended” disclosure only raises more…