For the second time in 10 months, freshman Rep. Mia Love is promising to refund a travel expense after her office struggled to offer a consistent explanation for her use of taxpayer money.
On Monday, Love told The Salt Lake Tribune and The Hill that she was reimbursing the U.S. Treasury for a $537.10 airline ticket on February 5 that she never used, after reporters had spent several days asking why she had charged taxpayers for the same flight two days in a row. In September, Love also promised to return $1,160 she spent in April on a roundtrip airline fare from Utah to Washington, D.C., during the weekend of the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.
In both cases, Love denied misusing taxpayer funds, but nevertheless promised to return the money. But both are likely to fuel concern that the first-term lawmaker, the first female Republican African-American member of the House, has given Democrats an opening to attack her in a race that polls show is surprisingly competitive against challenger Doug Owens.
In the most recent case, communications director Richard Piatt offered conflicting explanations for the extra ticket.
House records show Love was reimbursed by the government for plane tickets on February 5 and 6 after the House adjourned on February 5. When asked last week why she was reimbursed for two tickets, Piatt said Love wasn't sure which day she wanted to fly back to her district in Utah, so she bought two tickets, planning to return the cost of the extra ticket to the Treasury when she decided to take the February 6 flight.