Facing an increasingly competitive reelection bid, Rep. Mia Love released emails on Thursday to validate claims she made during a congressional debate earlier this week that she was not required to return a portion of the contributions she received for the June primary, despite running unopposed.
The GOP congresswoman tweeted a link to an email thread between lawyers from her finance committee and staff from from the Federal Election Commission confirming that the conversation between an FEC staff member and the campaign had taken place.
BREAKING NEWS: My campaign has received written email confirmation from the FEC’s Office of General Counsel stating, “Friends of Mia Love is not required to take any corrective action regarding the primary election contributions at issue."
Full email: https://t.co/AheliN9Tm3 pic.twitter.com/1ObMD8Y1fJ
— Mia Love (@MiaBLove) October 18, 2018
The FEC had requested information from the Love campaign over the summer for raising more than $1 million for a primary she knew was unlikely to happen — a potential violation of FEC rules. A progressive group, Alliance for a Better Utah, later filed a formal complaint over the issue.
In an email dated Wednesday, Matthew Sanderson, a lawyer for Friends of Mia Love, wrote asking the FEC to confirm whether an agency analyst named Michael Dobi had been correct in relaying information to the campaign that they did not need to redesignate funds raised prior to April 21. That’s when Love secured the Utah GOP’s nomination after running unopposed.
Danita Alberico, an attorney for the FEC’s Office of General Counsel, replied back affirmatively.
“[Dobi] correctly informed you of our analysis and conclusion and properly advised that Friends of Mia Love is not required to take any corrective action regarding the primary election contributions issue,” wrote Alberico.
Ben McAdams, Love’s Democratic challenger, has used the campaign finance controversy in political ads targeting the two-term GOP congresswoman. The two are in a heated race to represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District, which covers parts of Salt Lake, Utah and Juab Counties.
In a statement, the McAdams campaign said the emails do not represent an official determination by the agency and its four commissioners.
“The email released by Rep. Love is not a decision by the FEC and does not exonerate her,” said Andrew Roberts, McAdams’ campaign manager. “The criminal complaint against Ms. Love is still an open matter.”
Chase Thomas, executive director of the Alliance for a Better Utah, also disputed Love’s characterization that she is now in the clear.
“Besides the fact that the email was, again, not in response to our official complaint, it only addressed the funds raised by the Mia Love campaign prior to the convention in April,” said Thomas.
Love’s campaign said she still plans to refund up to $10,000 and redesignate around $370,000 — money raised after the Utah GOP’s nominating convention in April.
Sanderson, in an interview Thursday, said that's still the case. But the attorney said the emails lend support to their arguments and make it less likely that commissioners will pursue a full investigation.
“That’s why this is an important development and letter because the FEC staff has come out, the Office of General Counsel has come out, and said this isn’t an issue,” he said.
Sanderson said he is “100 percent” confident the matter will soon be put to rest.
“The Alliance complaint is really a zombie filing,” he said. “it technically exists still, but it’s dead.”