Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love’s campaign admits to improperly raising primary election funds

Utah GOP congresswoman’s campaign will return or redesignate less than half of the funds that have been deemed questionable.

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Utah Rep. Mia Love is in violation of Federal Election Commission (FEC) guidelines and will have to refund or redesignate money she raised and designated for a primary although there is no primary for her.

The Utah Republican’s campaign has informed the commission that it plans to give back some of the money, which totaled more than a million dollars, that she improperly secured, according to documents reviewed by CNN. Love was informed that she was in violation of federal guidelines regarding obtaining money for primaries via a letter the commission sent to her campaign in August. In Utah, candidates are not allowed to raise funds designated for a primary contest if they have no primary, CNN says in their article.

Love’s campaign responded, saying they would refund or redesignate part of the money but not all of it. Love did not respond to inquiries from CNN.

In April at Utah’s nominating convention, Love secured a third term nomination for her seat in Utah’s 4th congressional district. To be nominated at a convention like this, it means that no primary is held.

Still, Love raised $1,153,624 and designated that money for a primary, according to the letter from the FEC to Love, as reported by CNN. And Love raised an additional $372,468 after the convention which she specifically designated for the primary, although her campaign knew a primary would not take place.

This is a serious violation of FEC rules, according to experts.

“It’s a big deal, it is a big deal,” said Ann Ravel, who served as FEC Commissioner under President Barack Obama. “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.”

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In the FEC letter to Robert F. Carlin, the treasurer of Love’s campaign, the FEC said these excessive contributions would have to be refunded or redesignated for the general election – a process that is allowed granted it is done within 60 days of receiving the funds. The donations to Love’s campaign were received outside of that 60-day window. This may result in penalties.

According to CNN, Love’s campaign lawyers responded on Friday to the FEC, saying they would refund or redesignate contributions, but only those received after she was nominated at the convention on April 21.

Love’s campaign now has to notify donors that their money will be moved to the general election instead of the non-existent primary. Donors can request refunds.