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Washington • U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, spent nearly $83,000 of taxpayer money in mass mailings and communications to her constituents in the first six months in office, more than Utah's other House members combined and higher than individual spending by a majority of her 435 colleagues.

Love, a freshman Republican, makes no apologies for using congressional resources to reach out to her constituents, arguing that she wants to make sure they know where her office is, what services they provide and how 4th District residents can seek her help on federal issues.

"Do I believe we're using these taxpayers dollars appropriately? Absolutely," Love said, noting that as a newcomer, she needed to introduce herself and her office. "I'm doing everything I can to communicate with [constituents]."

Meanwhile, a new poll shows Love beating her likely Democratic challenger Doug Owens by 49 percent to 38 percent in a possible rematch of the 2014 election. Love beat Owens by five percentage points in that race.

Some 12 percent of adults surveyed in the poll commissioned by the online political news site Utah Policy were undecided. The survey by Dan Jones & Associates has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.87 percent.

Dave Hansen, Love's campaign manager, said he's happy with the poll numbers and added that discontent with Congress in general explains why she may not be polling higher.

"The poll numbers look good," Hansen said. "She's in a strong position and they don't bother me at all."

Hansen had told the National Journal last week that he was prepared to go negative against Owens in the next round, and the campaign manager clarified that in 2014 Love tried to stay upbeat but will be ready to "respond in kind" if Owens goes negative.

"It depends on what he does as far as campaign," Hansen said.

Owens' campaign strategist, Taylor Morgan, says the poll fits in with "what we've been thinking."

"It's a close competitive race and Doug knows he has to work hard for every vote and he's doing that," Morgan added.

As far as office spending, Love's predecessor, then-Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat, was also criticized for spending more money on mass mailings than his Utah colleagues. Matheson's former district was always politically competitive and continues to be into this election cycle.

Members of Congress are given annual budgets — in Love's case, about $1.2 million a year — to pay for staff salaries, travel and communications.

They are allowed to use taxpayer money for sending out non-political, informational newsletters, direct mail and to hold tele-town halls.

Love spent more than $74,000 on mass mailings and another $8,600 on tele-town halls in the first six months in office, according to congressional records.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, spent the second most, with nearly $33,000 in mass mailings and $5,700 in communications like tele-town halls. Rep. Jason Chaffetz spent $3,700 on mass mail and Rep. Rob Bishop spent nothing, House records show.

Office expenditures are reported quarterly by the House.

Of the members of the House, Love spent the 13th most in mass mailings and mass communications in the first six months of the year, with Puerto Rico delegate Pedro Pierluisi topping the list at nearly $154,000 spent.