Lauren Boebert fundraiser in Aspen prompts warning for violating public health orders
ASPEN — Many supporters of a Rifle Republican running for U.S. Congress did not wear facemasks or practice social distancing during a recent Aspen fundraiser, prompting a warning letter Friday from Pitkin County’s public health department.
Prior to the Aug. 31 event at a home off Cemetery Lane in the Aspen area, the public health department worked with the Lauren Boebert for Congress campaign to develop a safety plan because the event was for between 11 and 50 people, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, formal gatherings of as many as 50 people must file a safety plan with the public health department beforehand that addresses protocols to reduce Covid virus transmission. That plan, which included the wearing of facemasks and social distancing protocols, was approved by the county, Peacock said.
However, after the event, a more than 8-minute clip of Boebert’s speech to supporters gathered inside the home was posted on an Aspen resident’s Facebook page and came to the attention of county public health officials. The clip showed that no one in attendance, including Boebert, was wearing a facemask or practicing social distancing, Peacock said.
“(The video showed) elements of the plan clearly weren’t followed,” he said.
The warning letter to the Boebert campaign sent out Friday notes that attendees didn’t wear facemasks as provided in the safety plan, that the event was not held in an outdoor space as represented in the safety plan and that social distancing requirements “were not observed by attendees in accord with the event safety plan,” according to the letter.
“The above-listed failures to adhere to the event safety plan for the Aug. 31, 2020 event constitute a violation of the Public Health Order and resulted in increased risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus to the individuals and staff in attendance,” the letter states. “As such, Pitkin County Public Health hereby is providing you with the Compliance Warning to provide you with notice of a violation of the Public Health Order.”
When reached on her cellphone Friday afternoon, Boebert said she was in Pueblo about to attend a meeting and asked the reason for the call. When told about the letter from Pitkin County, Boebert said, “I’m stepping into my meeting now,” and hung up the phone.
The Times did not receive a response to an email sent Friday to Boebert’s communications director seeking comment and a message left at the campaign office was not returned Friday.
Peacock said the county wants the campaign to comply with a safety plan for any future events.
“The goal is always compliance, not punishment,” he said. “Hopefully, it won’t happen in the future.”
The county doesn’t plan to seek punishment against the Boebert campaign because the threat to public health doesn’t appear to be on-going, Peacock said. That is in comparison to the situation with the local nightclub, Bootsy Bellows, which the county moved against quickly after it appeared the bar was open for business last month because the risk to public health was on-going, he said.
During the more than 8-minute clip of Boebert’s Aug. 31 speech to supporters Boebert addressed her attitudes toward COVID-related societal protocols, including facemasks, according to the video.
“We have people on the left who are trying to take away everything from us,” Boebert said at the fundraiser. “They want to take away our rights, our freedom, our liberty.
“As the virus has shown us, they want to take away your right of where you can shop, when you can shop there, how old you have to be, at what time and certainly what you have to wear to be in a certain store.”
There a similar private event was scheduled near Beaver Creek in Eagle County on Aug. 21, according to RealVail.com.
Eagle County spokesman Justin Patrick said Friday the county “was not aware of a private event featuring Lauren Boebert, nor were any plans submitted for the event.” He told the Vail Daily there “may be some followup early next week.”
Boebert, a supporter of President Donald Trump and the owner of Shooters Grill in Rifle, beat former Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in the June 30 Republican primary. She is running against Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush for the 3rd Congressional District seat.
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