Mia Love Claims FEC Cleared Her — Others Say Not So Fast

Utah GOP rep raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for primary race she didn’t face

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, has been nagged by an ongoing dispute about money she raised for a primary race that never happened. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, has been nagged by an ongoing dispute about money she raised for a primary race that never happened. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 17, 2018 at 8:51am

Utah Rep. Mia Love does not appear to be out of the woods just yet over a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission over funds she raised for a GOP primary race she allegedly knew she would not have.

That’s despite Love claiming in a statement Monday night that the FEC has cleared her of any wrongdoing after she agreed to re-designate roughly $370,000 in campaign contributions made between the GOP nominating convention in April and the June primary date, when Love did not face a Republican challenger.

She also returned more than $10,000 to donors in the third filing quarter for donations that her campaign legal team deemed she needed to return.

Love told reporters Monday that her campaign received a call from an FEC employee who told the campaign that it could “keep all the primary funds that we have raised through the convention and that the agency attorneys agree with the legal assessments made” by Love’s campaign finance legal team.

But the group that filed the initial complaint forcing Love to revisit her primary funding, the Alliance for a Better Utah, said that phone conversation is not tantamount to a clearance from the FEC on the matter.

“I guess the statement from the campaign was trying to portray an unofficial conversation with a staffer as a clearance or a clearance of wrongdoing of everything that has happened so far. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Chase Thomas, the group’s executive director, told KTVX in Salt Lake City.

The campaign manager for Love’s Democratic opponent in Utah’s 4th District, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, also criticized Love’s characterization of the phone conversation.

“Unfortunately, Rep. Love continues to have a difficult relationship with the truth. She lied to Utahns and to the press last night,” Roberts said, the Deseret News reported. “We expect D.C. politicians to lie when they’re embroiled in scandal.”

A press officer for the FEC told Deseret News Tuesday that they are unable to comment about the phone conversation because those are kept private.

“Phone conversations don’t get put on the public record,” Judith Ingram said, noting that the commission posts written correspondence with campaigns online. “I don’t know what the conversation was between them. I wouldn’t be able to characterize it.”

Throughout the last several months, polling has given Love a slight edge over McAdams — but well within the margin of error.

But a new Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released Tuesday showed McAdams had pulled even with Love in the 4th District, with each candidate collecting 46 percent of the vote from those surveyed.

Eight percent of respondents were still undecided.

Despite carrying the district by 7 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016, President Donald Trump is not very popular there, garnering just 39.1 percent of the vote.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.

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