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FEC Complaint Against Love Campaign Still Pending, Despite Love's Claim Agency Had Resolved Issues

Photo of Love at debate.
Scott Winterton/Deseret News/Pool Photo

The progressive group Alliance for a Better Utah says its Federal Election Commission complaint against GOP Rep. Mia Love over improper fundraising is still pending, despite a claim from the congresswoman’s campaign that she has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Moments before the 4th Congressional District debate on Monday night, the Love campaign distributed a press release citing an unnamed FEC analyst who they claim had called to resolve the outstanding complaint. The campaign later identified the analyst as Michael Dobi.

But during a press conference on Tuesday, Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah, said they had just received a receipt from the FEC last week acknowledging that their complaint, filed on Sept. 12, was under review.

“The fact that our complaint is still under review, and could potentially lead to a full investigation, means that this issue is far from over,” he said.  

Alliance For A Better Utah filed a formal complaint last month after the FEC sent a letter to the Love campaign questioning more than $1 million it had raised for a primary race which Love knew was unlikely to happen.

The Love campaign disputed the allegations but agreed to refund at least $10,000 in donations and redesignate another $370,000 to a different election fund.

Alliance for a Better Utah contends the congresswoman violated campaign finance law and should refund all the money it raised during that period before the Utah GOP’s convention, where Love was formally nominated after running unopposed.

The FEC does not comment on individual candidates or ongoing reviews. Reached by phone, an agency’s press office said it could not confirm whether the phone call took place between the analyst, Michael Dobi, and the campaign.

The agency’s four commissioners have sole authority to make an official determination of legality or compliance with commission regulations.

Most FEC investigations take more than a year to resolve, said Thomas of the Alliance for a Better Utah, meaning their complaint is unlikely to be resolved before next month’s election.  

Love’s Democratic challenger, Ben McAdams, has used the issue in a recent political ad targeting the two-term incumbent — a flashpoint in Monday night’s debate between the two candidates.

Love said the phone call is evidence that the McAdams campaign has been using the FEC allegations to smear her.

“They were banking on the fact that the FEC takes a long time to actually come back with a response. And I believe that Mayor McAdams owes me an apology,” Love said.

But McAdams questioned the legitimacy of the FEC analyst’s phone call.

“A violation of the law like this isn’t resolved by a call from an unnamed attorney from a press release from the Love campaign, so I’m certainly still concerned,” said McAdams.


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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