State elections officials have asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate an unknown group after it sent out a campaign mailer they believe is deceptive.
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Drake said the mailer was designed to appear as though if it was official election-related mail rather than campaign literature.
The mailer says Republican Olivia Cortes is no longer a candidate in the recall election in Mesa.
“It looks to us like it was designed to be viewed by the electorate as coming from [Maricopa County Recorder] Helen Purcell’s office,” Drake said. “It’s kind of masquerading as though it came from the county recorder’s office.”
Drake said the mailer, which was paid for by a group named Citizens United for Progress, contains a logo that is similar to the U.S. Postal Service’s logo for official election-related mail. The postal service strictly forbids its use by anybody other than federal, state and local election and voter registration officials, and considers such use an infringement of its intellectual property rights.
Under Arizona law, the civil penalty for deceptive mailers is twice the cost of the mail piece or $500, whichever is greater.
The campaign piece quotes Purcell saying that Cortes is no longer a candidate.
This isn’t Citizens United for Progress’s only potential infraction.
The group has produced at least four campaign mailers, but is not registered with state elections officials. The Secretary of State’s Office earlier asked the group to provide more information.
“It is evident from the multi-colored, glossy mailers created on heavy card stock that your client, Citizens United for Progress, may need to file a statement of registration and the appropriate notification of expenses with the filing agency,” Amy Chan, the state election director, wrote to Steven Hirsch, who is listed as the group’s agent in its filing with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Citizens United for Progress has sent out mailers supporting Jerry Lewis and opposing Russell Pearce.
Under the law, any corporation or labor group that spends a total of at least $2,500 in a legislative race must register and notify the Secretary of State within one day of making the expenditure.
The fine for failing to comply with this law is up to three times the expenditure amount.
An attorney for Citizens United for Progress did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.