Mia Love’s campaign again tries to get Democratic attack ads taken off the air

Republican Mia Love’s campaign is once again trying to get local TV stations to take down ads from two Democratic groups attacking her for a fundraising controversy.

The threatened action is a clear sign that Love’s campaign is worried these ads are doing significant political damage to her in this hotly contested race.

Meanwhile, the Republican super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan added another $191,594 in ads opposing McAdams, bringing their total financial investment in the contest to $1,185,475.

So far, outside groups have spent more than $3 million on the race.

Lawyers for Love’s campaign are objecting to commercials from Patriot Majority USA and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that claim she “illegally” raised more than $1 million in campaign funds for a primary election that never took place.

According to a complaint filed by the liberal group Alliance for a Better Utah, Love’s campaign raked in more than $1.3 million for a primary election, with more than $350,000 coming in after she had already secured the GOP nomination. Love’s campaign claimed the Federal Election Commission advised them they could keep the $1 million raised before the convention. The campaign also said they were redesignating or refunding the money raised after the convention.

However, earlier this week ABU said their complaint about Love’s fundraising was still under review. Love’s campaign now says they have reallocated or refunded all of the money it raised for that non-existent primary election.

The letter to local TV stations echoes a previous complaint about the groups attempting to “mislead voters about Congresswoman Mia Love.”

“These two advertisements are entirely false,” reads the letter from Love’s lawyers. Love’s lawyers specifically object to a claim in both commercials that Love admitted to collecting illegal contributions. Love’s counsel then alleges ABU is “closely allied with the Ben McAdams Campaign” and their complaint with the FEC “is no better than a biased, bare assertion that cannot serve as the actual basis” for the claim.

Love’s legal team then demanded the stations immediately remove the commercial as they “should not be complicit” in this misconduct.

Lawyers for Patriot Majority USA argue that their ads are not misleading as Love “admitted those contributions were illegal” and promised to remedy the situation by either refunding or redesignating the money.

“It is not merely administrative to refund or re-designate hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions,” argued Patriot Majority’s lawyers. “The Love campaign was required to do so because raising money for a primary that you know will not happen is illegal.”

The letter concludes, “This advertisement accurately informs Rep. Love’s constituents about her decision to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions…for a primary she knew was never going to happen. Your decision to air it should remain undisturbed by these late-breaking complaints from the Love campaign.”

At least two TV stations have decided to keep airing the commercials in question.

Patriot Majority USA spent $676,408 on the ads opposing Love this cycle, while the DCCC added $213,334 for their ad buy against Love in the final weeks of the campaign.

The ads are part of a flood of outside money into the race in the final days of the 2018 campaign. Just this last week independent groups poured more than a half million dollars into Utah:

  • The Congressional Leadership Fund placed $191,594 in ad buys on Thursday night
  • The political arm for the League of Conservation Voters spent $19,155 on a mailer opposing Love and $33,191 on a separate flyer supporting McAdams.
  • The American Conservative Union dropped $5,000 on digital ads supporting Love.
  • The DCCC dropped their entire media buy in the last week of the campaign.
  • Patriot Majority added $211,925 to their TV ads.
  • The National Right to Life Victory Fund spent $982 on digital ads supporting Love.
  • Americans for Prosperity Action Fund dropped $1,718 on mailers and door hangers in support of Love.

FiveThirtyEight.com changed their rating of the race from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democrat,” giving McAdams a 3 in 5 chance of unseating Love on Tuesday. It’s the first time McAdams has been favored to win.