SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, defended a mailer Friday sent by her office to constituents about her efforts on a banking bill that features a Deseret News masthead over a statement from an op-ed that appeared in the paper.
"It’s accurate. It’s a quote that was published in Deseret News. So that’s exactly what we’re stating here. We’re not saying that this came from the editorial board," Love said.
The mailer, sent out at taxpayers' expense, places the statement, "This will be the most signficant bipartisan action taken by Congress this year, and Love sponsored several key provisions in the bill," under the newspaper's masthead.
The quote is not from a news story or a Deseret News editorial, but from a May 29 op-ed submitted by Scott Simpson, Utah Credit Union Association president and CEO, and Howard Headlee, who holds the same position with the Utah Bankers Association, titled "Thanks to Mia Love for fixing Dodd-Frank."
An op-ed is a signed opinion piece from authors not associated with a newspaper's editorial board.
"I don’t think it’s a misrepresentation, but I would love to have a conversation with the editors," Love said. She said "there have been many different op-eds that have been published that we have quoted" from the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News.
Editors of the Deseret News raised concerns about the mailer.
"The mailer misrepresents a statement of a guest opinion writer as an official position of the Deseret News. Clarity and proper attribution are critical when communicating to the public and this mailer doesn’t do that," said Doug Wilks, editor of the Deseret News, and Boyd Matheson, opinion editor, in a joint statement. "In a subsequent mailer the statement in question is properly attributed to a guest opinion writer.”
The mailer was brought to the newspaper's attention by the campaign of Love's Democratic opponent in the November general election, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
McAdams said the authors of the op-ed are banking lobbyists who are also Love supporters, yet their statement on the mailer is "being passed off as if it is the independent journalism of the Deseret News."
That is "dishonest and misleading," the mayor said. He said Love is "using tax dollars to mislead the public. I think it’s unethical and an abuse of the privilege of her office."
Love said in a statement later Friday that she thinks "this is an attempt from my opponent to distract from the results I am delivering for my constituents."
She said Simpson and Headlee wrote the op-ed "as constituents who were thankful for my successful legislative efforts in reversing burdensome regulations which hurt Utah families and small businesses."
Her communications director, Rich Piatt, said the mailer "like all mailers, went through a bipartisan House committee, which approved it without reservation. We were advised by the franking commission that the complaint was clearly political without validity.”