'Miss Poison Pork Sliders': The Messy Past of Rising Republican Star Lauren Boebert

Illustration for article titled Miss Poison Pork Sliders: The Messy Past of Rising Republican Star Lauren Boebert
Image: David Zalubowski (AP)

Lauren Boebert, the 33-year-old congressional candidate in Colorado and owner of a restaurant where the waiters famously carry guns, has built her run for office largely on the strength of her brash and carefully cultivated persona. She’s amassed a large online following for fighting her state’s covid-19 restrictions, embracing conspiracy theories about the “deep state” and espousing support for QAnon, and engaging in the sort of in-public confrontation that’s become de rigueur for conservative trolls.

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As the Denver Post writes, Boebert is a “star of rightwing Twitter,” successfully building a sort of microcelebrity that has fueled her bid for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd district. But despite her rapid rise to fame, the Colorado Sun recently exposed her as a bit of a sham, casting doubt on the often-repeated story she trots out about why her employees tote guns as well as sharing some revealing details about her past run-ins with law enforcement. Hmm, do I sense a trend among young Republicans?

Take, for instance, Boebert’s story about why she was inspired to have her waiters at Shooters Grill openly carry guns, which she has stated was in response to an alleged murder near her restaurant. It seems that the story isn’t actually true. More, from the Colorado Sun:

But there is some truth-bending in how Shooters became an armed food emporium. In a story Boebert has made an integral part of her personal lore in speeches and interviews, she has often repeated that she decided to arm herself and her waitresses because she feared for everyone’s safety after a man was “murdered” in the alley behind her new restaurant.

“There was a violent altercation in our back alley where a man was physically beaten to death and it immediately prompted the question, ‘How will I defend my people?’ So, I began to carry that day,” Boebert told the Durango Herald last year.

The Rifle Police Department has no record of such a murder. A man did die on the sidewalk down the street from Shooters in the early morning of Aug. 22, 2013. Initially, it was investigated as a possible homicide, but an autopsy determined the man died from a drug overdose.

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And then there’s Boebert’s personal history, which the cheerleader for “law and order” hasn’t exactly been eager to discuss, as it includes quite a few eyebrow-raising arrests and run-ins with the law. As the Denver Post dryly noted, “Boebert’s record is unusually long for a congressional candidate.” Take this arrest from 2015 in which she riled up some drunk teenagers at a music festival and then, as she was being handcuffed for disorderly conduct, kept yelling her arrest was “illegal” and that she “had friends at Fox News” (again, via the Sun, and first reported by Colorado Newsline in August):

According to the incident report from Mesa County deputies, Boebert was yelling at juveniles who were under arrest for underage drinking at the [Country Jam music] festival. The report described her running into the sheriff’s command post and yelling to the juveniles that they were being detained illegally because they hadn’t been read their Miranda rights. That was wrong. Those rights must be read when suspects are being questioned – not when they are simply being detained.

A deputy wrote that Boebert was warned to leave the premises but continued to yell and caused the juveniles to become unruly. One deputy physically pushed her from the premises. When she was told she was going to be escorted from the festival, the report said, she attempted to run from deputies. At that point she was handcuffed and placed under arrest for disorderly conduct.

During her arrest, she yelled that she had friends at Fox News and that her “illegal” arrest would make national news. After her mother attempted to calm her and she was released with a summons, she warned that Fox News would be contacting the deputies, the arrest report stated.

According to the Denver Post, Boebert missed her first court date for that summons “because, as she told a judge, she forgot what day of the week it was.” (The case was eventually dismissed.)

Or consider this fun story from 2010, in which Boebert’s neighbors allege that she harassed them after they complained about her dogs. Via the Denver Post:

Boebert’s first run-in with police was in the fall of 2010, after a neighbor, Michele Soet, alleged that Boebert, then 23, was harassing Soet and Soet’s husband. The alleged harassment occurred in the days after Soet called police because Boebert’s pit bulls were loose and threatening the life of her dogs.

Boebert was issued a ticket for dog code violations and a short time later texted Soet, “You have taken food out of my children’s mouths,” according to Soet. Boebert also “displayed her middle finger” to Soet’s husband as he drove through Rifle, according to a Garfield County sheriff’s deputy’s report.

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All of this certainly puts tweets like the one below in more context.

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And then there’s this fun tidbit about how the successful businesswoman became known as “Miss Poison Pork Sliders” after her restaurant gave dozens of people “severe diarrhea” a few years ago:

Boebert had other legal skirmishes in the summer of 2017. The Garfield County Health Department blamed her restaurant for sickening at least 80 people at the annual Garfield County Rodeo. Health department records show she had failed to obtain a license to serve food at the event and that “improper food safety practices” likely led to the poisonings from pork sliders she had served. The health department investigated after receiving a rash of calls the morning after the rodeo from those suffering severe diarrhea.

On Twitter, angry critics called Boebert “Miss Poison Pork Sliders.”

Will any of this matter to voters in her district? Despite the district’s Republican leanings, Boebert might lose. As Politico recently reported, “[I]t’s now considered possible that Boebert could lose what had become a secure GOP seat.” But even if she loses, Boebert’s rise is worrying. As Darren Smith, the chair of the Garfield County Republican Party, told the Sun, “She is definitely not what we are used to, but maybe that is the face of politics moving forward.”

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That sounds about right.

Senior reporter, Jezebel

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