Freshman Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) billed taxpayers $1,160 for flights and other transportation costs to return to Washington the same weekend she attended the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner and other social events, according to House expense records reviewed by The Hill.
Love spokesman Richard Piatt said Thursday he had no comment when asked about the reimbursements or whether his boss had any official duties in D.C. that weekend in April.
House rules state that members are not allowed to use their congressional allowance “to pay for any expenses related to activities or events that are primarily social in nature.” Lawmakers are allowed to be reimbursed for flights to and from their districts so they can attend votes and carry out other official business at the Capitol.
While the WHCA dinner does raise money for journalism scholarships, the event — dubbed “Nerd Prom” — has been regarded as D.C.’s biggest social gathering of the year, replete with more than a dozen pre-parties and after-parties.
Love, 39, a former mayor in Utah and the first black female Republican in Congress, is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party; she delivered a rousing speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
But Love has been keeping a low profile since arriving on Capitol Hill in January, perhaps in part because Democrats believe her rock-star status could hurt her reelection chances in 2016.
She’s facing a rematch in 2016 against Democrat Doug Owens, the son of a former congressman whom Love defeated last fall 50 percent to 46.8 percent. In 2012, she narrowly lost her first race for Congress to then-Rep. Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonMcAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district Trump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot MORE (D-Utah) by just 768 votes.
According to House expense records made public last week, Love was reimbursed by taxpayers for $537.10 for a commercial flight taken on Saturday, April 25, and another $537.10 for a second flight a day later on Sunday, April 26.
She sought reimbursements for another $86 that weekend for “Parking/Taxis/Tolls.”
Love was in Washington for votes the week leading up to the WHCA weekend, House records show. And she sought reimbursements for two other $537 flights on the Tuesday and Thursday of that week.
The expense records do not indicate whether Love had flown back to D.C. that weekend from her congressional district south of Salt Lake City or from another place.