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Mia Love paying back money spent on questioned D.C. trip

FILE - Congresswoman Mia Love shares her support during a rally to encourage the defunding of Planned Parenthood at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.
FILE - Congresswoman Mia Love shares her support during a rally to encourage the defunding of Planned Parenthood at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.
Stacie Scott,

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mia Love is paying back the cost of a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., last April after a national publication questioned more than $1,100 in travel expenses billed to taxpayers.

In a Thursday blog post, The Hill said a review of House expense records showed the Utah Republican returned to Washington the same weekend she attended the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner and other social events.

The political news source cited House rules allowing members to be reimbursed for flights to and from their districts, but not "to pay for any expense related to activities or events that are primarily social in nature."

Love's spokesman, Richard Piatt, said in a statement the flights the congresswoman took between Salt Lake City and Washington on April 25-26 were booked by a staff member and 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, Rep. Love will reimburse the government for those flights," he said.

Love's decision came after her trip was initially described as "for official business" because she had "participated in several meetings, in addition to participating in the correspondents dinner."

Democrat Doug Owens, who has already announced he is once again challenging Love for the 4th District seat, also questioned the flight reimbursements.

"If the reports are true, Mia Love ought to apologize and immediately pay back any public funds she used inappropriately," Owens said in a statement.

Love, the first black Republican woman in Congress, was elected in 2014 to fill the seat that had been held by the state's only Democratic representative, Jim Matheson.

Matheson, who defeated Love two years earlier, chose not to run for re-election.

Email: lisa@deseretnews.com

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