This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Rep. Mia Love is "doing more for Utah," and she's "getting results for Utah" and she's "standing up for Utah students."
These are the slogans on mailers received by voters in the 4th District, but they weren't sent by her campaign. They were sent by the U.S. House, and each one includes this line: "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."
Sitting lawmakers are allowed to use their office budgets to send mailers back home as long as they are approved ahead of time and deemed to be not political. It is a practice that often irritates challengers, who complain these glossy postcards are more about boosting re-election efforts than educating the public.
Democrat Doug Owens, who is running against Love, wants to ban the practice and has said: "Spending huge sums of taxpayer money on self promotion is not only wasteful, it's wrong. Our representatives should not be campaigning with our money."
And his campaign notes Love has spent far more than Utah's other lawmakers. Since taking office in January 2015, Love has spent $274,800 on these mass mailers, far more than her Republican colleagues in Utah. Rep. Chris Stewart spent $82,700, Rep. Jason Chaffetz came in at $8,759 and Rep. Rob Bishop didn't send any mass mailers.
Love reacted strongly to Owens' claim.
"To say that we are using taxpayer dollars on the campaign is a flat-out lie, desperate and politically pathetic," she said.
Love said she decided to dedicate less of her office budget to employees to save money to spend on such mailers and that she still returned more than $110,000 in unused office funds to the treasury at the end of 2015.
"I felt that in my first term it was important to let people know where our office is located and focus more resources in communication with the people I serve," she said.
One of those mailers spurred Richard Johnson, a veteran of World War II, to contact her office to help get medals he earned but had never received, she said.
Tax-funded mass mailers must stop 90 days before the election and in the period right before that moratorium Love spent $88,000 to send 301,710 fliers. Only nine of the 435 House members spent more over that period.
The piece she sent out on the last possible day, Aug. 10, included a picture of her next to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., with the quote: "I'm working hard to bring Utah values to Washington." It included information on a financial measure she passed to help small banks, a measure that would allow a veteran's family to keep the last month of his or her federal benefits when the veteran dies and a proposal to limit a bill to one topic. It included phone numbers for her offices in Utah and Washington, D.C., along with her website.
Love has an 18-percentage point lead on Owens, according to the latest Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates in mid-September. The two ran against each other in 2014.
Love won the 4th District seat by about 5 percentage points.