Love’s campaign finance controversy echoes Enid Waldholtz in 1994

The headline reads: “Utah Republican congresswoman battles FEC over $1 million donations.”

But it is not Rep. Mia Love’s problems with the FEC this election year.

It is 1995, and the FEC’s case involves former GOP Rep. Enid Greene of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

There are significant differences, of course, between the two Federal Election Commission issues with each candidate.

Still, the two instances involve whether $1 million was given legally to each woman’s campaign.

Love and her campaign manager, Dave Hansen, say she did nothing wrong, and any problems with FEC rules can be straightened out by reclassifying some of the donations to her 2018 re-election campaign.

Back in 1999 when then-Enid Greene, now Enid Mickelson, and her father Forrest Greene, paid a $100,000 FEC fine, Greene said her former husband, Joe Waldholtz, was to blame for taking $1 million illegally from her father and putting it into her successful 1994 2nd District race.

However, it was clear after she decided to retire from the U.S. House in 1996 that Enid Greene knew of her father’s $1 million donation – which later turned out to be illegal.

In any case, now Love, a Republican congresswoman from Utah, has her own problems with the FEC.

In a detailed statement this week, Love’s campaign spokesperson said the CNN article about her FEC problems was oversimplified and slanted.

Hansen says the more than $1 million – all donations following FEC rules – can be reclassified through paperwork, with more than $300,000 being either returned to donors or have the donors agree to place their donations in a different category on FEC forms.

Back in 1994, it was clear that Enid Greene needed her father’s $1 million to run aggressive TV and radio ads the month before the election.

With that advertising, she was able to defeat then-Democratic Rep. Karen Shepherd – who told me at the time (I was the Deseret News political editor) that she feared she would be “swamped” by the $1 million expenditure by Enid Greene.

One reason Love won’t return the $1 million to donors this year (which she says she doesn’t have to) is because it would cripple her re-election campaign with less than two months before Election Day.

Both Love and Democratic her challenger, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, are gearing up for a knock-out TV and radio advertising fight.

The new Dan Jones & Associates poll finds Love 3 percentage points ahead of McAdams, 49-46 percent.

Politically speaking, Love can’t afford to turn back $1 million now – even if later she should face some kind of FEC action against her 2018 campaign.

And where are Greene/Mickelson and Shepherd today?

Well, both are in the news in 2018.

Mickelson, a former Republican National Committeewoman from Utah, chaired a raucous section of the April state GOP convention, dealing with delegate boos and verbal outbursts over party rule changes.

And Shepherd is one of the signed sponsors of the Better Boundaries initiative that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot – seeking to set up an independent redistricting commission in Utah.