Mia Love to Challenger: ‘Pull Out’ of Race Over Fundraising Kerfuffle

Utah GOP rep claims she is in the clear over primary fundraising — Democrats say otherwise

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, urged her Democratic opponent to drop out of the race. He declined. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, urged her Democratic opponent to drop out of the race. He declined. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 19, 2018 at 9:23am

Utah Rep. Mia Love urged her Democratic opponent in a race that is virtually tied, per the latest polling, to drop out just 19 days before the midterm elections on Nov. 6.

Naturally, her opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, declined.

“I honestly believe that Mayor McAdams should pull out of this race. I think it’s that unethical that he should pull out of this race if he is willing to try and destroy totally a fellow Utahn for political gain,” Love, the incumbent and Republican nominee for Utah’s 4th District, told KSL Radio in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

Money questions have plagued Love’s campaign. This week she publicly released an email her campaign received from the Federal Election Commission saying Love’s campaign committee could retain the hundreds of thousands of dollars in primary-designated campaign donations it raked in ahead of the GOP’s nominating convention on April 21, 2018.

She cited the email in declaring victory Thursday in the ongoing debate over the money she raised for a primary race that McAdams and progressive watchdog groups have said she knew she would not have.

“[The FEC has] looked at this and, bottom line, we have not done anything illegal or unethical,” Love told KUTV in Utah.

But the FEC’s letter mentions nothing of more than $350,000 in primary-designated funds Love continued to raise up until Utah’s primary election on June 30, where she was on the ballot unopposed.

Love’s campaign has already agreed to re-designate $370,000 raised during that window for general election purposes. She has also refunded $29,000 in campaign contributions, her third-quarter FEC filing shows.

“Her own filings with the FEC acknowledge that she messed up,” Alyson Heyrend, a spokeswoman for McAdams’ campaign, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Heyrend also pointed out that the Alliance for a Better Utah that filed a complaint with the FEC has not received any letter from the commission stating that the matter has been resolved, as Love claims. The progressive watchdog group should receive word in writing on the conclusion of the FEC’s investigation.

“That doesn’t say to me that she’s been cleared,” Heyrend said.

The race for Utah’s 4th District, rated Leans Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, has heated up in recent weeks, especially with chatter over Love’s campaign finances continuing to percolate.

President Donald Trump carried Utah’s 4th District over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 7 points, but he garnered just 39.1 percent of the vote there.

The latest poll from the Tribune showed Love and McAdams tied.

All previous public polls had Love up by single digits, all within their polls’ respective margins of error.