WASHINGTON — Facing ethics complaints after reports of questionable mileage claims, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s congressional campaign has disclosed for the first time that it repaid the candidate for several Uber trips and thousands of dollars in hotel stays.
Yet the amended filings raise more questions about the Boebert campaign’s recordkeeping.
The firebrand Republican’s campaign had previously claimed in federal election filings that those Uber and hotel repayments, made just after the election in November, were for gas. They were part of nearly $22,000 in mileage-related reimbursements for the use of a personal vehicle during Boebert’s winning congressional campaign in the western Colorado district.
Added to a March mileage reimbursement exceeding $1,000, that unusually large $22,000 sum — much higher than the average congressional candidate is reimbursed for mileage — caught the eye of journalists and campaign finance watchdogs. That led to a complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics and another with the Federal Election Commission by outside campaign finance watchdog groups.
On Monday night, however, Boebert’s campaign in its new filing revised that mileage reimbursement total downward.
The overall campaign reimbursement to Boebert in November remains the same: $21,199.52.
But in the amended election finance filing, the campaign claims it had paid Boebert back $17,280 of that sum for mileage, while $3,053.25 was actually for hotel stays and $866.27 was for Uber trips.
An accounting firm hired by the campaign amended the report to include more details about the types of expenses Boebert had made while traveling, a campaign spokesman explained in an email.
In a statement shared by the spokesman, Boebert said she thinks the hubbub about her campaign finances and the local news reporting about the trips were designed to distract the public from other campaign finance issues involving Democratic lawmakers in Minnesota and California.
“I represent one of the largest districts in the country and was proud to have driven to every nook and cranny in it to help win my election,” Boebert said in the statement.
“The reimbursement was for appropriate travel expenses, as reflected in the filing. We were happy to provide further detail. Nothing changes the reimbursable amount or the campaign’s operating expenses.”
Still, questions remain about Boebert’s reimbursements.
A complaint filed with the FEC earlier this month by the nonprofit campaign finance watchdog group Campaign for Accountability alleged that the campaign “failed to keep adequate records” to back up the reimbursements, as required by campaign finance law.
Indeed, even as the amended forms claim more than $3,000 in hotel reimbursements, only $2,152.35 of that total is itemized. Boebert’s campaign said Tuesday night that the other $900 consists of hotels stays under $200, which don’t need to be itemized per FEC rules.
The revised FEC filings now show Boebert booked a Holiday Inn after an October appearance in Durango, and two separate stays in Pueblo, corresponding with public campaign events held nearby in September and October.
The campaign reimbursed Boebert $206.69 for another hotel stay at a Courtyard by Marriott in Pueblo on Feb. 13, 2020.
However, Boebert’s Facebook account lists a campaign fundraiser that evening in Grand Junction, which would have been a five-hour drive to the other side of the state.
That was also the same day Boebert paid off three tax liens on her restaurant in Garfield County — also on the other side of the state from Pueblo — totaling $553.50, as first reported by Colorado Newsline.
The multiple Uber trips were also not itemized, but the campaign filed a statement noting that the “entire balance is Uber cabfare paid personally between” Sept. 27, 2020 and Nov. 7, 2020.
And though the mileage reimbursement reflected fewer miles than Boebert’s campaign previously said she had driven, even at the lower total, Boebert would have had to travel more than 30,000 miles over the seven months between March and November in order to rack up that much money in mileage reimbursements.
Earlier this month, Colorado Public Radio tallied an exhaustive list of Boebert’s public events, adding up the mileage she would have driven along the way assuming she returned home to her residence in Silt, Colo., between travel dates.
According to their calculations, the mileage would have been about 30,000 miles, yet Boebert’s claims for reimbursements for hotel stays indicate she did not always return home.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:05 a.m., Feb. 24, 2021, to include a response from Boebert’s campaign regarding the $900 that was not itemized in its FEC filings.