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GOP, Dems trade shots at 4th District candidates

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Tribune File Photo Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

By Robert Gehrke

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 10 2012 06:21PM
Updated Nov 30, 2012 11:31PM

Opposing political parties are firing allegations of hypocrisy and wasting taxpayer money at Mia Love and Rep. Jim Matheson, as the race for the 4th Congressional District begins to take shape.

The Utah Republican Party slammed Matheson for using his "franking" privilege — which allows members of Congress to send a set number of mass-mailings to constituents — to mail out what is really a campaign piece at taxpayer expense.

"Jim Matheson’s mailing is an insult to Utah taxpayers, precisely because he charged them to send it," said Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright, who said it would be "fiscally responsible" for Matheson to reimburse taxpayers from his campaign account.

Matheson said that his mailer, as is the case with all such congressional mailers, had to be approved by a bipartisan commission created to weed out campaign pieces and his constituents want to know about the federal budget.

"I made a decision that it’s important for congressmen to communicate with constituents. It’s important to me," said Matheson. "I think more than anything, this is the issue I hear most about — what is going on with spending issues and deficits?"

Matheson said the mailer went to his current constituents in the 2nd Congressional District, not in the new 4th District where he will be up for election in November, although there is overlap between the two.

Wright said it is ironic that Matheson touts his fiscal discipline in his mailer, but government spending has increased and budget deficits have exceeded $1 trillion during Matheson’s time in office.

"Matheson and Obama’s reckless spending have left us with record sustained unemployment, anemic growth, and endless debt," Wright said."Matheson should not charge the taxpayers for a thinly veiled campaign piece that tries to whitewash his dismal record of supporting Obama’s destructive policies."

The Utah Democratic Party, meantime, jabbed Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, for her criticism of the federal stimulus funds passed during the Obama administration, even though nearly $500,000 of the money was spent in her city.

According to federal records, the bulk of that money — a total of $448,161 — went to the Lakeview Academy of Science, Arts and Technology, a charter school in Saratoga Springs, much of it to help educate children with disabilities. Another $10,000 came from a Justice Department grant to help police departments ride out the recession.

The Democrats argued it was hypocritical for Love to claim that the "stimulus was a failure," and didn’t create jobs — as she does on her website — when money was spent in her city to save jobs and help ease the economic strain.

"The thing we’ve come to know about Mayor Love is she talks the talk but she can’t walk the walk," said Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis. "She’s against taxes but she raised taxes [116 percent]. She’s against the stimulus, but she took money for the police department from stimulus money. She just plain can’t live up to what she says she’s going to do."

Love’s budget proposal would eliminate grants to schools and police departments. Love campaign spokesman Brian Somers said the party’s criticism is a sign of desperation.

"Not only is Jim Matheson voting for Barack Obama in November, he is now taking pages from his campaign playbook," Somers said. "Just as Obama is desperate to distract voters from his failed economic agenda, Matheson is also desperate to distract Utahns from his record of advancing that agenda. Mia Love is proud of her record."

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