Dear Representative Love,
First off, let me just say, I get it. Campaign season will wear anyone down – and in October, things tend to get a little crazy.
But I must admit I am more than a little confused by your premature proclamation that the that Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has said that your “campaign was legally allowed to raise primary-election contributions and that [you] may retain all primary-election contributions [you] received before the date of the Convention.” only for us to discover that the FEC has made no public announcement to that end, going so far as to say that the FEC “does not, as a rule, memorialize in writing any ‘official position’ on a matter raised in a Request for Additional Information” sent to Love that raised the issue initially.” (Read: The FEC didn’t say the thing you said they said).
With all due respect, Representative, this is a major unforced error on your part.
Perhaps you thought this could just blow over with a simple Facebook statement. Heck, in the past you have been able to slip out of ethical questions regarding your use of franking privileges to essentially campaign on the public dollar, you were able to sluff off complaints that you were reimbursed with taxpayer dollars for a flight you didn’t take, or that you used campaign dollars for, among other things, a trip to Disney World. You dodged a recent minor controversy that seemed to imply that you were opposed to gay marriage by 86ing a vendor and giving a noncommittal response to the issue that basically amounted to “The Supreme Court said it, so I guess I will go with it.” And, sure, you may have sent misleading mailers that implied that Utah’s two largest newspapers supported your positions, only to learn that they were op-eds written by supporters that were improperly credited – but, hey, that’s politics!
And, to your credit, in the past non-statements and not responding has worked. Sure, the occasional Democratic candidate has attempted to use some of these prior issues against you, but you were able to brush them off thanks to weak campaigns and poor messaging used against you. Who (aside from the political wonks who read articles such as this) know what franking is? What is is a $500 reimbursement in the grand scheme of the federal budget? Disney World is the happiest place on Earth – who are we to question such an expense given the tough job of governing? And Anti-Gay sentiment? Well, that plays well among some of your constituents and the hardliners you have to appease, so take the risk and throw it in there, only to retract if the biased, fake news, liberal media calls you out on it.
But this one, this one is a little bit different.
The people who have their mail-in ballots sitting on their kitchen counters may not understand subtle nuance of franking, and questionable spending from years ago have long since been forgotten – but if there is one thing the average voter can wrap their heads around, it is improper fundraising, mostly from groups outside of Utah. I hate to break it to you, but that tends not to play well in industrious, by-your-bootstraps Utah.
At best, at best, the most prudent strategy is to hope that Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (you know, your opponent, who has been surging in recent weeks and is in a statistical tie with you) hammers you on the issue and you quietly hope that just enough people don’t pay attention until the FEC issues its formal ruling, hopefully, prior to election day.
But, no, you and your campaign staff chose to go a different route; affirmatively stating something that, at the very least, has not been formalized and, at the worse, is demonstrably untrue.
With mail-in ballots already out and Election Day less than three weeks away, you have chosen the worst possible way to attack this issue and, to be frank, this forehead-slapping mistake is bush league. You just gave McAdams ammunition in a war that you may very well lose, and you handed it to him on a silver platter. Now McAdams can legitimately claim that you lied about (or, at the very least, ignored the process regarding) the outcome of a federal investigation – and that is a mistake you can’t afford to make.
Now, granted, living in Congressional District 2, I have no personal skin in the game. But I will say this: having a background in campaigns this sort of stuff just makes me cringe. But, I will also say this: Being a Democrat, I delight in such errors. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. And, as a citizen of Utah and the United States, I will say this: it is time to get your house in order.
Curtis Haring has an unnatural obsession with campaign strategy and should probably get that checked out. That being said, you can hear more on the Utah Political Captiol Podcast. He can be followed on UtahPoliticalCapitol.com, on Twitter at @utpolcaptiol or @BlueInRedZion, and on Facebook at Utah Political Capitol .