Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Mead on Wednesday repeated statements that her position with a Utah company has nothing to do with her opposition to a state loan for constructing a natural gas pipeline to California.

And Mead questioned the payment of state legal fees to a law firm headed by two supporters of Gov. Mike Sullivan in comments that Sullivan took exception to."I think it's extremely unfortunate that we get into this kind of last-minute accusations by Mrs. Mead and I can only say it appears to be the politics of desperation," he said. "I think it's too bad we've reached that point."

Mead's statements responded to an Associated Press story about her position on the board of directors of Questar, a Utah company building a natural gas pipeline from Colorado to Southern California.

While Questar officials do not oppose construction of a line from southwestern Wyoming, they do oppose a proposed low-interest state loan for the construction of the line, saying it would give their competitors an unfair advantage.

Mead has opposed the loan as well and she was quoted in the story as saying her opposition to the loan is based on the state's best interests rather than Questar's, a position she reiterated in a news release Wednesday.

"I favor pipeline construction (from Wyoming) despite the fact that such a pipeline may compete with Questar, on whose board of directors I serve," she said. "What I oppose is needlessly lending $250 million in public funds to help build a pipeline that is going to be built anyway."

Mead said given natural gas market conditions and conditions expected to exist in the future, no state loan is needed for the line.

In addition, Mead said she has discussed her position with Questar several times with reporters and mentioned it in her campaign brochures.

"Only now, a week before the election, is someone conveniently attempting to turn my Questar board seat into a political issue," she said. "This is a transparent attempt to affect the outcome of the election and I trust that Wyoming voters will treat it for what it is."

But Sullivan said he had nothing to do with the story and added he had known of Mead's connection with Questar before the story was published, but did not release that information.