Mia Love campaign fires firm responsible for anti-LGBTQ email criticizing Ben McAdams

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams announces his plans to run against two-term Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, for the stateÕs 4th Congressional District, Wednesday October 18, 2017. (Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Utah Fourth District Congresswoman Mia Love meets with Salt Lake Tribune's editorial board Tuesday August 30, 2016.

Subscribers to Rep. Mia Love’s mailing list got a double dose of messaging from the Republican congresswoman’s campaign Thursday.

An initial email attacked Love’s opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, over his endorsement by Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., and the two Democrats’ shared support of same-sex-marriage rights. That was followed roughly an hour later by a second message promoting Love’s role in the release of Utahn Josh Holt from imprisonment in Venezuela.

“Apologies for the double email this morning,” the second message stated. “A previous email was sent in error.”

Sasha Clark, Love’s campaign spokeswoman, said the first email was sent in error by a vendor without the approval of the campaign. Clark initially declined to answer whether the vendor’s contract with the campaign was under review as a result of the mistake, but Love later clarified in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune that the contract had been terminated.

“The vendor who sent this email without our approval has been fired,” Love said. “We sincerely apologize for their error.”

The first email stated that McAdams has received a “stirring, full-throated endorsement” from Rep. Joe Kennedy III and describes the Massachusetts Democrat as “of the proud, Kennedy dynasty.”

The email then lists several progressive positions that Kennedy is known to hold — including support for abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act, and opposition to the recent GOP tax cuts — before extending those stances to McAdams.

“Kennedy III champions gay marriage — Just like Ben!” the email states. “He certainly embraces East Coast liberal values, like his buddy Joe Kennedy — but these are not Utah’s values.”

The content is similar to the “Moderate McAdams” email the Love campaign distributed on Labor Day weekend — with approval from the campaign. In that email, the campaign describes McAdams as a liberal politician who supports liberal causes despite his self-promotion as a centrist candidate.

“‘Moderate McAdams’ who says he was ‘pleased’ with the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage,” the Labor Day email stated.

Clark said the Labor Day weekend email was intended to highlight the liberal agenda under Democratic politicians such as McAdams, rather than a specific commentary on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Clark said it would be inaccurate to assume Love opposes same-sex-marriage rights based on the emails but was unable to clarify what her position is regarding LGBTQ rights.

“I’ve never had a conversation with the congresswoman about that subject,” said Clark.

Love later issued a statement expressing love and respect for gay community.

“The rights of same-sex marriage families has been guaranteed by the Supreme Court," Love said, “and we respect their constitutional privileges.”

In a prepared statement, McAdams said that Love wants to reignite an old controversy for political gain. He said he’s proud that Utah stands out as a place where families, churches and LGBTQ advocacy groups are able to discuss, share their differences and find common ground.

“Using equal rights as a punching bag is flat wrong,” McAdams said. “We are moving forward on equality for all under the law.”

After the Labor Day weekend email, Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams tweeted that Love had apologized to him in a private conversation.

On Thursday, Williams told The Tribune he was skeptical of the campaign’s explanation that the new email was sent in error and said that Love is “disingenuous” in her contradictory stances on LGBTQ rights.

“I don’t know who Mia Love really is,” Williams said. “When she speaks with me privately, she tells me ‘Troy, I love gay people, I support gay marriage.' And then publicly, her campaign uses the gay community to pummel her opponent.”

Williams said he was disappointed by Thursday’s email but not surprised.

“I challenged her to actually take a stand and speak out on behalf of the LGBTQ community,” he said. “Her campaign is using the LGBTQ community to attack other Americans. That’s not an accident, that’s intentional.”

Love confirmed to The Tribune that she had privately apologized to Williams after the release of the “Moderate McAdams” email.

“Around Labor Day I apologized to both [Salt Lake City Councilman] Derek Kitchen and Troy Williams and other dear friends of mine,” she said. “I love and respect them.”