Rep. Mia Love is in hot water with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) after her team raised more than a million dollars for a primary election that wasn’t expected to happen, according to documents obtained by CNN.
Love, who has previously stirred controversy with her gun control views, won a nomination for a third term as Utah’s 4th congressional district representative at the state’s nominating convention in April. Candidates who get a nomination at a convention, especially those who do not have challengers, don’t move forward to a primary election. However, the congresswoman raised a reported $1,153,624 for a primary, according to a letter from the FEC sent to Love. She also secured another $372,468 for a primary that her team knew wasn’t going to happen, the FEC said.
The rep’s actions have broken federal campaign finance laws, but her campaign only wants to refund or re-designate a portion of the collected money for the general election fund, the congresswoman’s team said on Friday (Sept. 7). The group may even be able to move forward and hold onto some of the funds by taking advantage of a loophole.
Love’s campaign is arguing that they should be able to keep funds collected before the convention based on a previous case. The FEC set a precedent by allowing Utah Sen. Mike Lee to hold onto collected funds for a primary for his 2016 re-election campaign that never took place. However, Love and Lee’s situations differ in that Lee anticipated an expected primary challenge that only became obsolete when he became the only candidate with enough signatures to get on the ballot. Love’s group knew that there would be no primary but proceeded to collect funds anyway, according to the report.
The congresswoman’s team is seeking further direction from the FEC in the case, but the situation casts a bad light onto her campaign.