Senator Ted Cruz's (R-TX) reelection campaign sent out deceitful mailers to Texas voters disguised as court summonses, prompting confusion and blowback in a Senate race that tightens by the day. Needless to say, people aren't happy.
The fundraising letter was packaged in a brown envelope with “SUMMONS ENCLOSED-OPEN IMMEDIATELY” plastered on the front. The return address reads "Official Travis County Summons."
NEW: The Ted Cruz campaign is mailing out donation requests disguised as legal summonses, confusing some Texas vote… https://t.co/skH7KNEEFm— Newsweek (@Newsweek) 1537140003.0
"Received this for my 88-year-old grandma. Says it's a summons from Travis County, but is actually asking for money for
@tedcruz," writes Sean Owen of Austin, Texas. "Did your campaign authorize this? Is this even legal? Shame on you. That's one more @BetoORourke voter."
Received this for my 88-year-old grandma. Says it's a summons from Travis County, but is actually asking for money… https://t.co/oKB0UPB78g— Sean Owen (@Sean Owen) 1537072308.0
Inside, recipients got what Owen described as a "normal campaign fundraising letter," asking for pledges to help reelect Cruz.
Some have asked what's inside. It's a quite normal campaign fundraising letter, and this form. Still a "Summons" an… https://t.co/wWbNuAjTQD— Sean Owen (@Sean Owen) 1537140621.0
The mailer struck Owen as slimy, especially because it was addressed to his grandmother, whom he says has dementia.
"I am used to ignoring junk mail with URGENT or FINAL NOTICE written on it, but this fooled even me for a moment, as it plainly wants us to think it's from our county government when it isn't," Owen told Newsweek. "That's different, that's over the line. It made me mad because my grandmother suffered from some dementia, and could easily have followed the urgent request inside to send money."
People with elderly relatives came rushing to Owen's defense on Twitter, agreeing that the Cruz campaign is attempting to swindle vulnerable people.
@bluesfantom @sean_r_owen @jonlovett @tedcruz @BetoORourke An 88 year old woman may not be able to tell the differe… https://t.co/ddU6nk5e1l— @resiliencer (@@resiliencer) 1537076479.0
@MsDiaryJp @sean_r_owen @jonlovett @tedcruz @BetoORourke My mom is 84 and sadly living in an adult home (those folk… https://t.co/5FHPhSur6C— bluesfantom (@bluesfantom) 1537076852.0
@sean_r_owen @tedcruz @BetoORourke Call your local news stations, to warn elderly voters of this scam.— Dap (@Dap) 1537077060.0
An official within the Cruz campaign confirmed to Newsweek on Monday that they had, in fact, sent the mailer.
Texas State Representative Gene Wu (D-Houston) said the fundraising letter violates the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
Hello. This is violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). I know, because I passed this law in… https://t.co/HgxLtELclk— Gene Wu (@Gene Wu) 1537141014.0
Wu cited a provision within the law that he believes Cruz violated.
DTPA #29: https://t.co/yspFcF8s90— Gene Wu (@Gene Wu) 1537141049.0
"This is the very type of solicitation the law was intended to ban," Wu added.
This is the very type of solicitation the law was intended to ban. Ones that pretend to be from a government agenc… https://t.co/EddLAQVogg— Gene Wu (@Gene Wu) 1537141156.0
Others also questioned the legality of Cruz's tactics.
@jamie_nix @diego_mccloud @PatsFan876 @Newsweek How is this even legal???🤢— Liberallion (@Liberallion) 1537187909.0
@bluesfantom @MsDarcyFarrow @MsDiaryJp @sean_r_owen @jonlovett @tedcruz @BetoORourke This is illegal. Anyone who re… https://t.co/3DGeHzjtLu— Stay Informed 🆘 (@Stay Informed 🆘) 1537189370.0
@schneems @Newsweek @SenTedCruz @BetoORourke There's a 2015 law against political mailers like the one Cruz distrib… https://t.co/q9oiHN1vmY— AlyceAndersyn (@AlyceAndersyn) 1537168093.0
@sean_r_owen @tedcruz @BetoORourke The word "summons" is a legal term of art, and widely understood to be a demand… https://t.co/QqVeiH0eOL— Monty Boa (@Monty Boa) 1537128614.0
@sean_r_owen @tedcruz @BetoORourke Further information on the fact that the Cruz campaign's use of donation solicit… https://t.co/KXZYSW6rhF— Monty Boa (@Monty Boa) 1537160243.0
If this looks at all familiar, it should. Cruz employed a similar strategy during his 2016 presidential bid.
A notice of "VOTING VIOLATION" was sent to Iowa voters ahead of their first-in-the-country caucus, warning would-be voters that their voting records are matters of public record.
@1redsquirrel @sean_r_owen @jonlovett @tedcruz @BetoORourke You're right , you did -https://t.co/tLh6455DUw— Nalini Moorthy (@Nalini Moorthy) 1537085221.0
"You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area," it read. "Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses."
And have these mailers endeared Cruz with voters? Nope, definitely not.
@KnollMoor @1redsquirrel @sean_r_owen @jonlovett @tedcruz @BetoORourke He’s the fucking worst— AxolotlYourself (@AxolotlYourself) 1537104115.0
@sean_r_owen @tedcruz @BetoORourke If you have to commit mail fraud to try and swindle voters and donations, perhap… https://t.co/Wh1tIghI1S— brad (@brad) 1537113491.0
@CableXJ @Newsweek @SharonCoryell3 Well, some vampires can fly and Ted, prediabetes, low-rent Dracula, Cruz is a fk… https://t.co/9OSjiIIiEl— Democrats win when Democrats vote. Just do it. (@Democrats win when Democrats vote. Just do it.) 1537153764.0
@Newsweek There is a reason Ted Cruz is the most disliked Senator in the U.S. Senate. No one will work with him.… https://t.co/4umtaFvNo7— Robert Wright (@Robert Wright) 1537149209.0
@Newsweek As if there weren’t enough reasons to dislike Ted Cruz already— parkinglotpuddle (@parkinglotpuddle) 1537201208.0
Actually, the mailer appears to be backfiring.
@Newsweek Ted Cruz is low life. I hope Beto wins.— Dana (@Dana) 1537145752.0
@Newsweek 🔊 Your Voice = Your Vote #BetoForSenate #BetoForTexas #VoteBlue #VoteTheGOPOut #LyinTed https://t.co/rDsA5eP4fK— Steve Solis 🇺🇸✌🏳️🌈 (@Steve Solis 🇺🇸✌🏳️🌈) 1537152176.0
@Newsweek #BetoForTexas https://t.co/LdXLPbL2Cr— Jay Zachary (@Jay Zachary) 1537157063.0
@Newsweek https://t.co/uH59MrtzmC— Debbie Dromo 🌊 🌊 🌊 (@Debbie Dromo 🌊 🌊 🌊) 1537207723.0
O'Rourke, a progressive three-term Congressman representing El Paso, is within single digits of Cruz and could be the first Texas Democrat sent to the Senate in a generation. O'Rourke has raised $23,332,950 to Cruz’s $23,365,835 and does not accept corporate or PAC money.
The last Democrat to get elected to the Senate from Texas was Lloyd Bentsen, who became the 1988 vice presidential nominee and Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton in 1993. Bentsen was then replaced by Democrat Bob Krueger, who lost a special election to keep his seat to Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson just weeks after his appointment.