Colorado's Attorney General has referred a complaint to the Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment over the use of campaign money by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, for mileage claims.
Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for the the Department of Law, said the agency "received an investigation request. We referred it to the appropriate agencies to evaluate the allegations and whether any legal actions are justified, which is our standard practice. The department has no additional information."
In a statement to Colorado Politics, Boebert called it "another swing and miss from a partisan political group," referring to the entity that complained to Phil Weiser's office.
"These false charges from 2020 have already been dismissed by the Federal Election Commission and disproven by the press. I represent over 50,000 square miles of Colorado," Boebert said. "I connect with the people I serve rather than sitting at home in a basement like most Leftists."
The complaint, filed by a group called American Muckrakers PAC, alleged that Boebert used campaign dollars to pay off tax liens on her Rifle restaurant.
The New York Times reported that Colorado officials are investigating the claims. In fact, the referral is at its earliest stage, and the two Colorado agencies could decide to launch an investigation or dismiss the complaint.
The Denver Post reported in February 2021 that Boebert received two checks from her campaign finance account for $22,259 for mileage reimbursement during 2020, equal to 38,712 miles. The March payment was for $1,060, while the November, 2020 payment was for $21,200.
After the mileage reimbursement came to light, the claims were amended to note they also included hotels and other travel expenses, although the mileage still totaled more than $17,000.
Last month, a complaint filed in February 2021 with the Federal Election Commission, alleging Boebert converted campaign funds to personal use, was dismissed largely along party lines, a common occurrence for the six-member FEC, where membership is made up of three Republicans, two Democrats and one unaffiliated member who often votes with the Democrats.
The FEC noted in its dismissal that the ledger submitted by the Boebert campaign for the 32,000 miles appeared to be an estimate.
"As a result of this imprecision, any portion of the disbursement for mileage expenditures over what Boebert actually drove for campaign-related purposes would constitute conversion of campaign funds to personal use," the commission said, adding it did not meet the FEC requirement to report actual mileage.
The Boebert committee claimed in its response to the FEC that the committee was not required "to maintain mileage logs in order to comply with its recordkeeping obligations under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended. The Boebert committee also said it satisfied its recordkeeping obligations when Boebert "assessed her trips from the point of origin to campaign related stop [b]ased on campaign travel records."
The American Muckrakers PAC, which claimed it helped defeat U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-NC, in his primary bid for a second term last week, brought the issue to Weiser's attention.
The Times cited the Muckrakers complaint as saying, “As you are both fully aware, utilizing an illegal source of funds or ill-gotten funds to pay off a tax lien is illegal in Colorado and under federal law ... That is the very definition of ill-gotten funds.”
In a statement to Colorado Politics, David B. Wheeler of the American Muckrakers PAC said Boebert "created this problem on her own and is finally going to be held accountable."
"Anyone who uses donor money to pay their taxes is not fit to hold public office," said the group, which also urged voters to support Boebert's primary opponent, Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose.
The primary election is Tuesday, June 28.