First-term Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) was blasted for attending a Malouf Foundation summit on human trafficking after not returning a $2,000 donation from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Fox 13 reported Saturday.
"I think that it's going to be really hard for any Utahn to take him seriously on sex trafficking when he's taking money from people that are accused of sex trafficking," said state Democratic Party Chair Jeff Merchant.
"Two thousand dollars from Matt Gaetz is not a huge amount of money to return to show the people of Utah that not only does he believe that sex trafficking is wrong, but he's also willing to stand behind what he has to say," he said. "And yet he hasn't bothered to do that."
"I begin to question whether he really cares about this," Merchant said. "He's literally, as we speak, up in Logan today talking about sex trafficking while he has money given to him by someone who has been you know pretty seriously investigated, and continuing to be investigated, by the FBI for inappropriate behavior."
This is not the only scandal the former NFL player has been facing.
The Republican was blasted by The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board on Thursday for his recent fear-mongering on immigration.
"That these words are a string of lies is secondary to their odious intent: To treat anyone who looks new to this country with suspicion. Anyone who doesn't know the language or 'the culture' should be suspected of working for criminal enterprises. That is fearmongering and it stands in stark contrast to the prevailing attitude in Utah," the newspaper wrote. "Utahns don't think of immigrants as a distant threat. When we hear foreign languages on a train or plane, we don't wonder if they're drug dealers. We're smarter and kinder than that. Your words are destructive and your constituents know it."
Although his seat is in Utah, Democrats Ben McAdams and Jim Matheson have both won in the district since the last redistricting.