FEC: Cruz campaign didn't violate rules with fundraising letter labeled ‘summons’

FEC: Cruz campaign didn't violate rules with fundraising letter labeled ‘summons’
© Greg Nash

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) said Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGoogle's most-searched politician of 2018 is Stacey Abrams Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he won't run for reelection as he preps for Iowa visit O’Rourke: Asking whether he is ready for White House is a ‘great question’ MORE’s (R-Texas) re-election campaign did not violate any regulations when it sent out a fundraising letter designed to look like a legal summons.

Myles Martin, a spokesman for the FEC, told The New York Times on Monday that big issue is whether a mailer discloses that it is from a political campaign. 

The Cruz "summons" does state that it is from a campaign and includes a return address for the campaign's Houston PO box. 

The Cruz campaign was criticized on Twitter over the weekend over the mailing. 

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“SUMMONS ENCLOSED - OPEN IMMEDIATELY,” is written across the front in capital letters.

“Official Travis County Summons, voter enrollment division,” reads the top left corner of the envelope. “Ted Cruz for Senate 2018.”

Martin in an email to the Times said FEC regulations "don’t speak to how candidates may choose to word particular solicitations to potential contributors.”

The envelopes first began circulating on social media when Sean Owen, a data scientist, posted a picture of mailer addressed to his grandmother.

She died in April and had been living at his Austin home, Owen told the newspaper.

“My grandmother was facing cognitive decline at the end of her life and I think if she’d read this she might have been deceived by it,” he told The Times. “It feels shady.”

It is unclear how many mailers were sent out across Texas. 

The Hill has reached out to the Cruz campaign for comment.

It is not the first time that Cruz has issued “summons” to his potential supporters, The Times noted.

The San Antonio Express-News wrote an editorial in May calling on the senator to “rethink” the mailer because it looked “too official.”

“It’s not really a summons. It’s a fundraising letter — as in, Cruz is summoning support,” the editorial board wrote. “But the problem is the Cruz campaign has made the envelope look much like a legal summons, which can be pretty serious. A summons occurs when a person is sued or ordered to appear in court. Most people are probably not thrilled about getting such a summons.”

The campaign said in a statement at the time that the envelopes were both were "effective and critical."  

“Out of more than 50,000 mailers to the San Antonio area targeting likely supporters there was one complaint that came not to us but to the local media,” the campaign told the newspaper. “Our mail efforts have been both effective and critical to identifying and engaging our supporters, and getting them involved in our campaign efforts to keep Texas strong.”

Cruz holds a narrow lead over his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeGoogle's most-searched politician of 2018 is Stacey Abrams Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he won't run for reelection as he preps for Iowa visit Cory Booker addresses speculation about his sexuality: 'I'm heterosexual' MORE

A CBS Dallas-Fort Worth/Dixie Strategies poll released last week shows incumbent Cruz receiving 46 percent support if the election were to take place today compared to O’Rourke’s 42 percent support.