Mia Love to pay back taxpayers for flights

Mia Love to pay back taxpayers for flights
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Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Juan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE, one of the GOP’s rising stars, said she will repay taxpayers more than $1,000 for weekend flights she took to attend the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner last spring.

Her decision came after The Hill reported Thursday that the Utah Republican billed taxpayers $1,160 for flights and other transportation costs to attend the star-studded event, often referred to as “Nerd Prom,” and other related parties.

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House rules prohibit members from using their congressional allowance “to pay for any expenses related to activities or events that are primarily social in nature.”

Love’s weekend trip between Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., did include time for official meetings in addition to the weekend’s festivities, Love spokesman Richard Piatt said in a statement.

But Love has not detailed who attended those meetings. She agreed to cut a check to the U.S. Treasury anyway.

“A staff member booked the flights Rep. Love took between Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. on April 25-26. They were paid for from the official office account. The trip included time for official business in the office as well as for the correspondents dinner that weekend,” Piatt said.

“Rep. Love takes the use of taxpayer money very seriously, and in order to ensure there is never a question about the proper use of funds,” he continued, “Rep. Love will reimburse the government for those flights.”

Love and her husband attended the dinner on April 25, and she dropped by at least one after-party the next day, the annual Allbritton Sunday brunch, according to a tweeted photo and news stories from the weekend.

Love, a former mayor in Utah and the first black female Republican in Congress, is seen as one of the new stars of the GOP. But Democrats view the freshman lawmaker as potentially vulnerable in 2016, and her weekend trip to the dinner could become an issue in her rematch against Democrat Doug Owens.

Before her decision to repay the cost of the trip, Owens, the son of a congressman, demanded that his opponent “apologize and immediately pay back any public funds she used inappropriately.”

Love had been in Washington for votes the week of April 20, but she flew home to Salt Lake City that Thursday.

House expense records made public last week reveal that Love returned to Washington two days later, Saturday, April 25, the day of the WHCA dinner, then flew home again the very next day, April 26.

The cost of each of those commercial flights was $537.10. She also sought reimbursements for another $86 that weekend for “Parking/Taxis/Tolls.”