The campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, might have violated state law in distributing a campaign contribution mailer disguised as a "summons," Law & Crime reported Monday.
According to The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA):
"False, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful and are subject to action by the consumer protection division . . . the term 'false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices' includes, but is not limited to, the following acts . . . delivering or distributing a solicitation in connection with a good or service that: (A) represents that the solicitation is sent on behalf of a government entity when it is not; or (B) resembles a governmental notice or form that represents or implies that a criminal penalty may be imposed if the recipient does not remit payment for the good or service . . ."
The mailer from Cruz's campaign was reportedly in an envelope labeled "Official Travis County Summons" and declared in all caps: "SUMMONS ENCLOSED — OPEN IMMEDIATELY."
The fundraising letter inside does not mention Travis County, but "still, the document continues to play up the faux court paper motif," Law & Crime reported, citing a tweeted photo of its contents.
The Cruz campaign took responsibility for the letter but did not consider it out of the ordinary, according to Newsweek.
"What made me mad was that I knew my grandmother faced some cognitive decline at the end of her life, and had she received it, could well have been confused," Twitter poster Sean Owen told Law & Crime. "Of course we were also shocked that it was clearly trying to be seen as an official legal summons from the county.
"I was surprised at the tactic initially, because even if it's legal to pretend to send mail from the county, I'd be surprised if it's worth angering some of the campaign's base over the tactic. It seemed like a new extreme in pushy, deceptive campaign ads. Of course when it occurred to me that my grandmother could have been deceived, it made me mad and I contacted their campaign, then took to Twitter."
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