Rep. Mia Love's campaign admits to improperly raising primary election funds

    Rep. Mia Love's campaign plans to refund, or redesignate, more than a million dollars that was "improperly raised for a primary that was never expected to happen," CNN reported Monday. (Photo: SBG)

    (KUTV) -- Rep. Mia Love's campaign plans to refund, or redesignate, more than a million dollars that was "improperly raised for a primary that was never expected to happen," CNN reported Monday.

    The Federal Election Commission sent Love a letter in August explaining that her campaign had violated federal guidelines concerning money for primaries. Love's campaign responded to the letter Friday stating it would refund some, but not all of the money.

    In Utah, candidates are not allowed to raise money if they don't have a primary, according to the FEC. Love won the nomination to seek a third term for her seat in Utah's 4th congressional district in April. However, in Utah, if a candidates receives this type of nomination, no primary is held. Therefore, Love was not in the right to raise money for a primary.

    Despite the rule, Love raised $1,153,624 and designated the money for a primary election, CNN reported.

    It's a big deal, it is a big deal," Ann Ravel, who served as FEC Commissioner under President Barack Obama, told CNN. "If you're raising primary funds and you have no primary, on its face, it does seem to be inappropriate and it's a lot of money.

    The FEC's letter stated that the funds collected by Love's campaign will either need to be refunded or designated for the general election, CNN reported. The process of redesignation has to be done within 60 days of receiving the money. However, all of the donations Love received were collected more than 60 days ago.

    "It seems clear that any contribution designated for the primary election received after the convention would have to be refunded or redesignated," Brendan Fischer, the director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, an organization that supports campaign finance reform, told CNN. "I think there is an argument that, Mia Love knew earlier than the convention that it would be an uncontested primary, but their letter suggests there may have been some ambiguity. So they might be able to get away with it but it's certainly problematic because of this sort of quirk in Utah law that allows a candidate to raise money above and beyond the federal limits that would apply in elections in almost any other state."

    Sasha Clark, a campaign communications director for Mia Love, released the following statement:

    We strongly dispute the accusations made in the CNN story.

    Mia Love's campaign also released the following statements about CNN's coverage:

    • CNN omitted that Friends of Mia Love did prepare for a primary campaign by paying over $35,000 to gather signatures to be on the primary ballot.
    • They also omitted the fact that the FEC simply requested a response for information as to why funds were attributed to the Convention and the Primary elections and did not and have not said Friends of Mia Love broke any laws.
    • Furthermore, CNN can in no way show that there is any deviation between 2016 Friends of Mike Lee campaign and the Friends of Mia Love 2018 campaign in which the FEC stated that because of the “unique facts” of Utah’s nominating process “the committee (Friends of Mike Lee) had no choice but to prepare for both the primary election and the party convention at the same time because of the short time frame between the party convention and the primary election.” (See attached letter for more details.)
    • The “unique facts” of the 2016 matter involving Senator Lee have not changed. Utah’s unusual primary ballot access laws were upheld by the Tenth Circuit regardless of what the Democrat party and national liberal reporters want to present to help Democrats take the House.
    • National reporters also do not understand that until, it was not known with certainty whether any challenger had qualified for the primary election ballot. Similarly, it was not known with certainty until– the date of the state party convention – that there would be no primary election at all.
    • The bias numbers reported by CNN are grossly exaggerated. Friends of Mia Love will redesignate contributions which were previously undesignated and then assigned to the primary election to the general election for donations received after April 21, 2018 – the date of the state convention- and before June 26, 2018- the date of the primary election. In total, Friends of Mia Love will redesignate about $370,000 and may refund under $10,000.

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