With so many scandals taking place in Congress these days it’s hard to keep tabs on every instance of misconduct, but it’s important not to ignore the less salacious scandals like the ongoing campaign finance complaints against Utah Rep. Mia Love. Love, who is running for a third term, is being accused by the Alliance for a Better Utah of raising nearly $1.1 million for a primary she did not face.
The Federal Elections Commission (FEC), where the complaint is being investigated, raised the issue earlier this year regarding her campaign’s fundraising. Ultimately, Love was told to “refund or reallocate” money raised for the primary to other elections. She has done neither. Instead, she has argued that something similar was allowed when Sen. Mike Lee raised and eventually kept money donated to him before a state GOP convention. Unlike Love, Lee had a challenger up until shortly before the convention.
Beyond raising money for something that Love almost certainly knew would not take place (she did not have any prospective challengers for the primary), her campaign has compromised enforcement of campaign finance laws. There are donation limits per election for individuals ($2,700) and political action committees ($5,000), but when a campaign raises money for three races but only two take place, contribution limits can easily be exceeded. This is why it’s so important for the FEC to be able to conduct a thorough investigation.
That being said, the result of this investigation will be extremely important to campaign finance debates moving forward. Instead of wanting to the case to be resolved and possibly be absolved, Love has pushed out misleading information, including language from an FEC email, claiming the matter has been dropped when it has not. This should not be taken lightly. There is a difference between not being required to take “corrective action at this time” and being cleared of wrongdoing. Rep. Mia Love misled Utahns by conflating the two.
Still, the fact remains that Rep. Love raised over $1 million for a primary that did not take place. That her campaign would go to such lengths to keep the donations, rather than return it to her working class constituents (who we are generously assuming make up the bulk of her donor base, and not wealthy millionaires and corporations) says a lot about her integrity, or lack thereof.