Utah newspapers slam GOP’s Mia Love for 'deliberately deceptive' mailers

Utah newspapers slam GOP’s Mia Love for 'deliberately deceptive' mailers
© Anna Moneymaker

Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LovePregnant and imprisoned: The crisis thousands of women are facing Election Countdown: What to watch in final primaries | Dems launch M ad buy for Senate races | Senate seats most likely to flip | Trump slump worries GOP | Koch network's new super PAC GOP lawmaker to refund some donations FEC says were raised improperly: report MORE (R-Utah) is being criticized by newspapers in her home state for sending mailers that make it appear she has their endorsement. 

The latest government-paid mailer features a quote in large letters attributed to The Salt Lake Tribune that supports Love's environmental positions. The quote actually came from an opinion piece she wrote herself in the paper as a guest columnist.

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Love never mentions the quote in the Tribune is her own, marking the second time in a week a Utah publication has complained about Love presenting an opinion piece misleadingly.

Last week, another government-paid mailer sent by Love featured a quote of support in the Deseret News that appeared to many to come from its editorial board rather than an outside author.

The representation "seriously misleads readers into believing that The Tribune as an institution supports Love’s environmental positions,” Tribune editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce said in a letter to Love’s office. “At best it lacks transparency; at worst, it’s deliberately deceptive."

“The mailer misrepresents a statement of a guest opinion writer as an official position of the Deseret News,” Deseret News editor Doug Wilks and its opinion editor, Boyd Matheson, wrote last week. Wilks and Matheson noted that another mailer sent out later that week properly attributed the statement.

Love's office denied anything improper in the design of the latest mailer.

“There is nothing improper about the [Tribune] mailer,” said Love spokesman Richard Piatt. “There was no intention to mislead anyone in that mailer. The quote was represented as one that was published in The Salt Lake Tribune, which it was.”

Piatt added that the mailer went out more than a year ago and received no complaints until Love's general election opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D), raised the issue to reporters.

“This is a bullying tactic to benefit her political opponent and distract from Rep. Love’s work in Congress,” Piatt added.

McAdams, who trails Love by 5 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, seized on the controversy, stating that the incumbent was "disrespecting the role of independent journalism."

“What we’re seeing here is a pattern of abusing her privilege as a member of Congress. She’s using tax dollars to do what seems like blatantly campaigning, and it’s misleading. It’s dishonest," he said.

“She’s disrespecting the role of independent journalism. She’s misleading her voters with fluff pieces that she’s attributing to independent journalism, when it’s just really coming from lobbyists or herself. These deceptive practices should stop," he added.