It was one of the more bizarre stories in US politics of 2023 (and that’s saying something) but Colorado Republican Rep Lauren Boerbert’s date night at a regional production of the Broadway musical Beetlejuice certainly made more headlines than you might have expected for its combination of sensationalism and hypocrisy.
The rightwing lawmaker, who was re-elected by a slim margin in November 2022, had to issue an apology for not telling the truth about an incident that saw her thrown out of a Denver theatre in mid-September 2023.
Her apology came as new footage emerged from security cameras at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts that showed Rep Boebert was not just vaping, singing, and taking flash photos during the performance, but also appeared to engage in heavy petting with her male companion.
A statement released by Ms Boebert said: “The past few days have been difficult and humbling, and I’m truly sorry for the unwanted attention my Sunday evening in Denver has brought to the community. While none of my actions or words as a private citizen that night were intended to be malicious or meant to cause harm, the reality is they did and I regret that.
“There’s no perfect blueprint for going through a public and difficult divorce, which over the past few months has made for a challenging personal time for me and my entire family. I’ve tried to handle it with strength and grace as best I can, but I simply fell short of my values on Sunday. That’s unacceptable and I’m sorry.”
In April 2023 Ms Boebert filed for divorce from her husband of 18 years, Jayson Boebert, and in June she announced she became a grandmother at the age of 36 after her 17-year-old son had a baby with his girlfriend.
The statement continues: “Whether it was the excitement of seeing a much-anticipated production or the natural anxiety of being in a new environment, I genuinely did not recall vaping that evening when I discussed the night’s events with my campaign team while confirming my enthusiasm for the musical. Regardless of my belief, it’s clear now that was not accurate; it was not my or my campaign’s intention to mislead, but we do understand the nature of how this looks. We know we will have to work to earn your trust back and it may not happen overnight, but we will do it.
“I’m deeply thankful to those in the 3rd District who have defended me and reached out this week and offered grace and support when I needed it the most. l’ve learned some humbling lessons these past few days but I vow moving forward, I will make you proud.”
The Colorado lawmaker has also previously accused the left of “grooming” children and railed against drag shows, tweeting in June 2022: “Take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars.”
You do have to watch what you take your kids to, lest they sit next to a Congressperson “vaping” and engaging in sex acts. https://t.co/MUBsb2NF6U— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) September 16, 2023
The hypocrisy of her apparent public sexual behaviour in a theatre versus her criticism of drag and attacks on the LGBTQ+ community did not go unnoticed, with Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones tweeting: “You do have to watch what you take your kids to, lest they sit next to a Congressperson ‘vaping’ and engaging in sex acts.”
Journalist John Harwood similarly wrote: “Republican extremist in Congress engaging in wildly-inappropriate sexual behavior in crowded public theater explains that she’s trying to handle her divorce ‘with strength and grace as best i can’.”
Author Dave Cullen tweeted: “Another 'family values' hypocrite attacks gays for endangering kids just for being ourselves — then does this at a show recommended for kids 11 & up.”
A spokesperson for the congresswoman previously denied she had vaped in the theatre, from which she was ejected on Sunday night after “causing a disturbance,” reported The Denver Post.
Ms Boebert’s team initially claimed heavy fog machines and electronic cigarettes were used during the play, which led to a “misunderstanding” that the controversial politician was using an electronic cigarette.
Four months ago, Lauren Boebert called for a boycott of North Face because the outdoor apparel company featured a drag queen in a harmless, non-sexual advertisement because she believes drag queens are a public sexual nuisance (they are not). And yet… https://t.co/PgGkFNCZoh— Charlotte Clymer 🇺🇦 (@cmclymer) September 16, 2023
However, footage, obtained by NBC, shows Ms Boebert sitting in the theatre and raising her hand to her face before a puff of smoke comes out of her mouth.
The video also shows a woman sitting behind the congresswoman leaning in to speak to her. The Denver Post reported the woman was pregnant and asked Ms Boebert to stop vaping, to which the congresswoman replied: “No”.
The woman, who described Ms Boebert’s behaviour as “outrageous”, also alleged the congresswoman called her a “sad and miserable person” after she asked to move seats during the intermission.
Ms Boebert could also be seen in the footage taking flash photos during the show and raising her arms as if to dance.
Late on Friday, more footage emerged that appears to show the lawmaker and her companion fondling each other.
The Republican lawmaker, who was not named in an incident report from the night, was warned about her behaviour during an intermission after three complaints were made before she was eventually told to leave by staff.
“They told me they would not leave. I told them that they need to leave the theater and if they do not, they will be trespassing. The patrons said they would not leave. I told them I would (be) going to get Denver Police. They said go get them,” an usher is quoted as saying in the report.
The report states that the two theatregoers were taken down to the vestibule, where they refused to leave, telling staff “stuff like ‘do you know who I am,’ ‘I am on the board’ (and) ‘I will be contacting the mayor.’ ”
Police arrived and stayed in the theatre until Ms Boebert and her companion left, according to the report.
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