Central Texans upset by Cruz campaign mailer they say is 'deceiving'

Some say they felt deceived when they opened this envelope, only to learn it was a mailer from Ted Cruz asking for donations, not a court summons. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Martin)

When Elizabeth Martin opened her mail Saturday morning, she was greeted with a manila-colored envelope that said, "Summons Enclosed - Open Immediately" in all caps across the middle. On the top left corner, it said, "Official Williamson County Summons, Voter Enrollment Campaign Division."

Concerned it was a real summons or even a traffic ticket, Martin opened it immediately.

She soon learned this was not a summons, or even a document from the government.

It was a mailer from the Ted Cruz campaign asking for donations, disguised as such.

"Oh I was really angry. I felt that I had been fooled and that I was forced to open the letter," Martin said.

Over the weekend, viewers from both Williamson County and Travis County called CBS Austin, complaining about this letter.

For viewers from Travis County, the top left corner said, "Official Travis County Summons, Voter Enrollment Campaign Division."

Martin says she's not the only one upset by what she thought was a deceptive practice.

"That's what I don't appreciate, is that I was used in that way, and a lot of other people have been as well," Martin said.

District 137 State Representative Gene Wu called out Cruz on Twitter Sunday evening.

Over the phone, Wu says this could be a violation of the Texas Deceptive Practices Act, a law he helped pass in 2015.

This makes it illegal to solicit for services by sending something - like a letter - on behalf of the government when it's really not.

Wu also says this may also violate Texas Penal Code 32.48, which states a person cannot deliver a document that simulates a summons or other court process to get someone to take action in response, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.

"This, I think, has really crossed the line. In the future when they see an actual jury summons, it's likely one of them says, 'No, that's just another scam. I'm just going to toss it,'" Wu said.

Going forward Martin hopes Cruz owns up to this. "If he wants to raise funds, he should do it legitimately. We shouldn't be scared into thinking that we have to give money to his campaign" she said.

CBS Austin reached out to the Cruz campaign. They provided the following statement:

Out of hundreds of thousands of mailers to the Austin area targeting likely supporters, there were a few complaints that came not to us but to the local media. 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.
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