Utah Dems pound Rep. Mia Love for taxpayer-funded flights to DC party

Utah Dems pound Rep. Mia Love for taxpayer-funded flights to DC party

(KUTV) Utah Democrats are unloading on Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, over her decision to bill taxpayers for her flight to Washington, D.C. for a social event.

The Utah Democratic Party released an online ad Wednesday pounding Love for charging taxpayers $1,160 for flights and other costs to attend the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April. The news last week was first reported by The Hill.

"When Mia Love parties, we pick up the tab," the ad's narrator says over images of the freshman congresswoman in front the U.S. Capitol and the Hollywood sign.

Love's spokesman Richard Piatt originally told 2News the congresswoman, "attended several meetings in addition to dinner that weekend" and also conducted business in her office.

However, Piatt has since clarified what the congresswoman was doing that weekend.

"Rep. Love cleared her travel with The Committee on House Administration and that day held an internal personnel and strategy meeting with her chief of staff in the Congressional office," Piatt said in a statement released to 2News.

After news of the taxpayer-funded flights broke, Love decided to return the money to the federal government "to ensure there is never a question about the proper use of funds," according to her spokesman.

But Democrats aren't letting go of the matter.

"Congresswoman Mia Love went to Washington saying she would change 'politics as usual' and be a guardian of our taxpayer dollars. Instead, she put taxpayers on the hook for a celebrity-studded party and then made excuses when confronted," said Utah Democratic Chair Peter Corroon in a news release Wednesday. "Citizens are still waiting for evidence that she was on 'official business.' "

Love's team is hitting back.

"Utah Democrats are sensationalizing this situation purely to raise money. That's immoral and dishonest," said Piatt, Love's spokesman, in a statement. "Void of both principals and policy solutions, the Democrats are clearly grasping at straws by launching a baseless attack on Rep. Love."

But Love is still facing questions from the media outlet that originally broke the story.

The Hill reported Tuesday Love has refused to provide documentation about the strategy meeting and declined to continue an interview with the reporter, saying she didn't want to discuss the issue.

When asked if Love's office planned to offer proof of the strategy meeting, Piatt told 2News nothing further would be released.

Love was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 after defeating Democrat Doug Owens. Owens recently announced he will challenge Love again for the seat in 2016.

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