HOUSTON - Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign is responding to criticism after sending letters seeking campaign donations that look like court summons.
KPRC2 received multiple complaints from viewers in Harris County. Residents in Travis County have also received the letters.
The Cruz campaign sent out thousands of letters to voters that appear to be official court summonses, but actually solicit campaign donations. They say on the envelope “Summons Enclosed. Open Immediately,” and “Official Harris County Summons,” or "Official Travis County Summons.”
A campaign official with Cruz's office said the letters have been mailed across the state over the last two years, adding that they're clearly marked "Ted Cruz for Senate" on the front.
Austin resident Sean Owen received one of the letters this weekend, addressed to his recently deceased grandmother.
“It seemed a bit over the line to represent it as an official document,” Owen said. “I wonder if it was targeted at someone like my grandmother who might have actually misunderstood this as an official document.”
Rep. Gene Wu (D) Houston, called it, “One of the most slimy, most deceitful things I’ve ever seen any campaign do.”
Wu said the mailings violate a section of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which he sponsored and the legislature passed in 2015. It prohibits soliciting goods or services using mail that appears to be from a government agency. It could be a violation of Texas civil law, but Wu said he believes the Cruz mailouts are also a criminal violation.
“I think this is a violation of Texas Penal Code 32.48, where it says, point blank, you may not send something out that looks like a summons or appears to be a summons in order to get people to do something,” he said.
Catherine Frazier, with the Cruz campaign, told KPRC in a written statement that the envelopes are clearly marked, “Ted Cruz for Senate,” and that the letters were targeted to people likely to support Republicans. She said a handful of people are trying to create a controversy.
While it’s not clear that the mailers are a violation of state law, Wu is encouraging voters who received the letters, and are unhappy about it, to complain to the state attorney general and local district attorney.
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