The Trumpified Republican Party has become a haven for the kind of unstable weirdos that would have been previously relegated to the far-right fringes of the internet. As the GOP has embraced conspiracy theories and developed an increasingly adversarial relationship with reality in general, QAnon believers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and absurd gun-toting Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO) have found themselves thrust into elected office, charting a disastrous course for the organization once known as “The Party of Lincoln.”
Much digital ink has already been spilled about the clearly insane Taylor Greene, deflecting some much-needed scrutiny from the less obviously crazy but no less dangerous Boebert. A QAnon believer herself, she has also been accused of giving a “tour” to a large group of people in a tunnel connected to the Capitol before Trump’s insurrection, raising the possibility that she directly aided the efforts to capture and perhaps even kill her fellow members of Congress. Now, the freshman Congresswoman finds herself in even more hot water.
The Denver Post reports that Boebert is under scrutiny now that it’s come to light that she paid out over $22,000 of mileage reimbursements to herself from campaign funds in 2020. Not surprisingly, her campaign is insisting that the suspicious payments were all above-board, but The Post spoke to three different ethics experts who voiced concerns about the propriety of the transfers. A former investigator for the Office of Congressional Ethics said the expenses “raise red flags” due to their “highly unusual amount.”
Explains The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:
“Candidates for federal office can legally reimburse themselves for miles driven in personal vehicles using the Internal Revenue Service’s mileage rate, which was 57.5 cents per mile for 2020. The Republican congresswoman from western Colorado wrote two checks totaling $22,259 from her campaign coffers for mileage between January and mid-November.”
“To justify those reimbursements, Boebert would have had to drive 38,712 miles while campaigning, despite having no publicly advertised campaign events in March, April or July, and only one in May. Furthermore, because the reimbursements came in two payments — a modest $1,060 at the end of March and $21,200 on Nov. 11 — Boebert would have had to drive 36,870 miles in just over seven months between April 1 and Nov. 11 to justify the second payment.”
The simplest (and admittedly as-yet unproven) explanation appears to be that she was improperly funneling money into her own pockets, a not unheard-of scheme for politicians unscrupulous enough to join a party as lawless and kleptocratic as the modern GOP.
The payments seem particularly suspect when one learns that the Congressman who held her seat reimbursed himself $9,797 total for travel (including airfare costs) over a ten-year span. Additionally, he transferred $9,575 from his office account for mileage. Unless Boebert is putting literal rocket fuel in her vehicle, the numbers simply don’t add up.
The Denver Post dug into the details of Boebert’s travel for public events, eight in total, and discovered through the use of global positioning software that she traveled 17,623 miles, assuming she went to every event listed on her Facebook page and drove home after each. Her campaign insisted to The Post that the Facebook events were just “a small sampling” of her travels.
Clearly, we are not getting the full story here and Boebert’s team should release a complete, itemized breakdown of her mileage expenses. It certainly seems like she’s engaged in campaign embezzlement and if that turns out to be the case she must be expelled from Congress and criminal charges brought against her. Yes, donating to a Republican is just asking to have your money stolen but that doesn’t mean we should let the crooks get away with it.