Mia Love pays back taxpayers for another flight

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Vulnerable freshman Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) is reimbursing taxpayers for yet another questionable flight, her office told The Hill on Monday.

Love, a GOP rising star and fiscal conservative, billed taxpayers for a pair of flights from Washington to Salt Lake City on consecutive days, Feb. 5 and 6, House records show. But Love never boarded the Feb. 5 flight, her spokesman confirmed, so she is reimbursing taxpayers the cost of the ticket, $537.10.

{mosads}“Both flights were billed. She’s paid the Feb. 5 flight back,” Love spokesman Richard Piatt said in a brief phone call.

Her latest reimbursement follows Love’s decision in September to pay back taxpayers more than $1,000 for weekend flights she took to attend the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner last spring.  

The $1,000 reimbursement came in response to a story in The Hill questioning whether she had charged taxpayers for flights to attend the glitzy dinner and other parties in D.C. that weekend.

Love later said she conducted official business at her Capitol Hill office that weekend, including meeting with her chief of staff, but paid back the cost of the flights out of an abundance of caution.

While members of Congress are allowed to book multiple flights to and from Washington to accommodate their unpredictable schedules, they are only supposed to pay for — and get reimbursed for — flights that they board.

Piatt said he didn’t know exactly when his boss cut a check to the Treasury for the $537 flight. But no reimbursements from Love appear in House disbursements records covering January through June 2015.

In a follow-up statement, Piatt added that Love has been employing a certified public accountant (CPA) since she took office in January.

“Office procedures are taken very seriously, which is why the office goes above and beyond typical Congressional bookkeeping practices by employing a CPA to manage the Member’s Representational Allowance,” Piatt said in the statement.

“In addition to performing regular Financial Administration Services, our accountant performs a standard end-of-year audit to ensure that all expenses are properly reimbursed and in compliance with House rules.”

Love, 39, a former mayor in Utah and the first African-American female Republican to be elected to Congress, gained national prominence in 2012 when she gave an inspirational speech at the Republican National Convention.

But since taking office in January, she’s been a top target of Democrats. Love faces a rematch against moderate Democrat Doug Owens, whom she narrowly defeated in 2014 and who has seized on stories of her flight reimbursements.

Late last month, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted the race to “lean Republican” from “likely Republican.”

“It has been four years now, but for whatever reason, Mia Love just hasn’t taken in the district, she hasn’t bonded with [it] yet,” Cook’s House Editor David Wasserman told The Salt Lake Tribune.

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