Rep. Mia Love’s campaign has informed the Federal Election Commission that it will refund or redesignate less than half of what the government says was more than a million dollars improperly raised for a primary that was never expected to happen, according to documents reviewed by CNN.
The commission sent Love a letter in August saying the Utah Republican’s campaign had violated federal guidelines about money for primaries. In Utah, candidates are not allowed to raise such funds if they have no primary, according to the FEC and experts specializing in election law. On Friday, Love’s campaign responded to regulators, telling the FEC they would refund or redesignate some, but not all, of that money.
CNN’s KFile reached out to Love, her campaign, her campaign treasurer and her campaign manager on Thursday about the contributions. They did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. After publication, Love’s campaign said in a statement they did prepare for a primary challenge by gathering signatures to appear on the primary ballot. Love’s campaign said they planned to redesignate about $370,000 and may refund less than $10,000 in donations.
In April, Love secured the nomination to seek a third term for her seat in Utah’s 4th congressional district at Utah’s nominating convention. In Utah, if a candidate receives such a nomination at a convention, like Love did, then no primary is held. At no point prior to April’s convention did Love face a primary challenger or the threat of one.
But Love raised $1,153,624 and designated that money for a primary, according to the letter from the FEC to Love. Even after Love secured the nomination at the convention, she raised an additional $372,468 specifically designated for the primary that her campaign knew would not take place.
Experts say the money raised is a serious violation of FEC rules.
“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.”
The FEC’s letter to Love’s campaign described the problem with the primary funds and said the contributions would have to be refunded or designated for the general election. Redesignation is a process in which funds can be moved to a general election fund, so long as it is done within 60 days of receiving the contribution.