092220-Lauren Boebert 2-CPT

Christopher Tomlinson

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Shooter’s Grill in Rifle had amassed a total of $19,552 in unpaid unemployment insurance premiums.

About three weeks before U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert reimbursed herself thousands of dollars for mileage from her campaign account in November, the Silt Republican paid off the last of nearly $20,000 in eight state liens that had been filed against her Rifle restaurant, records show.

Until Oct. 22, Boebert’s Shooter’s Grill in Rifle had amassed a total of $19,552 in unpaid unemployment insurance premiums that date back to 2016, when she first opened the restaurant. Those were cited in eight separate liens that were placed on the property by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, according to documents from the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

The last lien to be paid off — and by far the largest — was for $13,957, which was placed on the restaurant back in May 2018, more than a year and a half before Boebert started her bid for Congress. The newest lien was placed on the property nearly a year ago.

While an employee’s unemployment insurance benefit claim can be delayed or rejected because of a failure of an employer to pay mandated UI premiums, it is unknown if any of Boebert’s employees were impacted, including during the pandemic, when her restaurant was shut down. The labor department did not respond to a question about that matter.

Three weeks after that final lien was satisfied, Boebert’s campaign reimbursed her $21,199 in mileage on Nov. 11, about a week after she won the seat for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. That was one of two times Boebert was paid a mileage reimbursement. The first was in March for $1,059.

Additionally, the campaign reimbursed Boebert $7,918 on Sept. 24 for an unknown reason. According to her year-end campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission in January, the reason given was “Memo Entry: See Below.” There are no notes that explain that money, nor did Boebert’s office nor her campaign respond to inquiries about it.

The congresswoman has come under fire in recent weeks for that large mileage reimbursement, which was about $3,000 more than her predecessor, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, whom she defeated in the June GOP primary, had reimbursed himself during his entire 10 years in Congress.

While Boebert has defended that reimbursement on Twitter, she has not offered any response until Wednesday.

On a Denver radio station, she told KHOW host Ross Kaminsky that the mileage is completely justified — and she has records to show it — because she “put more than 30,000 miles” on her vehicle during the course of the campaign, saying she even had to get brand new tires for a new vehicle she had recently purchased.

“I drove tens of thousands of miles all throughout the district,” she said. “I was somewhere new every single day. If they want to come against me for legitimate expenses, go ahead. I had to make those connections, and really, I under reported a lot of stuff.

“Another thing that happened were those fires in the Glenwood Canyon,” she added. “When we had that week or so of fires, we had to take the long way. To get from Rifle to Edwards, which should be a 40-minute drive, took us nearly seven hours to get around it.”

Several statewide publications, including The Denver Post and Colorado Public Radio, have attempted to re-create whether it’s even possible to drive that much in a seven-month period, which is enough to circumnavigate the globe one and a half times.

An analysis by The Post earlier this month documented 80 known events she attended, reporting that, at best, she traveled only 17,623 miles. At an Internal Revenue Service reimbursement rate of 57.5 cents per mile, that only comes to $10,133.

That Post story prompted a national left-leaning group, Account.US, to file a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, asking it to investigate the reimbursement.

A CPR story a week later, identified 129 destinations during her campaign, totaling it to about 30,000 miles, assuming she returned to her Silt home after each trip. Her campaign records do not indicate any expenses for meals or lodging.

Her year-end campaign filings show that Boebert received nearly $3 million in contributions, and spent nearly all of it, $2.6 million, during the campaign, primarily on advertising.

The largest contributions she received — $136,250 in two donations — came from Texas GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s 20 for 20 Victory Fund.

The largest expenses to a single entity — about $1.9 million in numerous outlays — went to Rock Chalk Media, a Grand Junction-based political consulting and media ad buyer for GOP candidates and conservative causes operated by Alex Chaffetz.