Less than two weeks before being elected to represent Colorado’s 3rd District in Congress, Rep. Lauren Boebert paid off the last of nearly $20,000 in state tax liens that had accumulated on her restaurant since 2016, records show.
Between August 2016 and February 2020, Shooters Grill, the gun-themed Rifle restaurant owned by Boebert, accumulated eight liens for nonpayment of unemployment insurance premiums, according to records from the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s office.
The liens, filed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, indicate that Shooters Grill was delinquent on UI premiums dating back to its opening in 2013. By early 2020, Boebert’s restaurant owed the state a total of $19,552.86, including interest and penalties.
On Feb. 13, 2020, three of the liens, totaling $553.50, were satisfied and released, records show. The remaining five liens, totaling $18,999.36, were satisfied on Oct. 22, 2020, according to Garfield County records.
Boebert did not respond to multiple requests for comment on what led to the liens being filed on Shooters Grill, or how they were paid off.
On a congressional financial disclosure statement that Boebert filed as a candidate in January 2020, she reported that Shooters Grill had posted a net operating loss of $242,347 in 2018. Boebert also disclosed liabilities that included a “business loan” valued at between $15,000 and $50,000.
In a report released last week, the National Restaurant Association estimated that the coronavirus pandemic had caused the foodservice industry to lose as much as $240 billion in revenue in 2020, a 27% drop from expected levels.
In May, public health officials in Garfield County revoked Shooters Grill’s license after Boebert repeatedly opened the restaurant for in-person dining in defiance of state and local coronavirus restrictions. The license was reinstated two weeks later, and Shooters Grill was allowed to reopen under the condition that it followed certain restrictions, including operating at 50% capacity.
”Governor Polis, your policies are literally bankrupting small businesses like mine that are trying their very best to responsibly stay afloat,” Boebert wrote in a Facebook post shortly after regulators revoked the license.
Garfield County records indicate that Shooters Grill had no other liens except for the eight that were released in February and October.
Boebert’s campaign finances came under scrutiny this week when The Denver Post reported on reimbursements she made to herself, first cited by Colorado Pols, to cover certain travel costs when she was a candidate. Her campaign finance disclosures to the Federal Election Commission indicate she claimed “mileage” reimbursements of $1,059.62, reported on March 31, and $21,199.52, reported on Nov. 11. A nonpartisan ethics watchdog group, Accountable.US, submitted a formal request to the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday asking for an investigation into what it called “exorbitant” mileage disbursements to Boebert from her campaign.