FGA Files Formal Complaint with Utah Elections Division Over Fraudulent Letter

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April 10, 2014

Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox.
Elections Division
Utah State Capitol, Suite 220
Salt Lake City, UT 84114

Re: Complaint concerning false representation on election mailing

Dear Lieutenant Governor Cox,

I am writing to make a formal complaint regarding an election-related mailing recently disseminated to voters in Utah Legislative District 57.

The Foundation for Government Accountability is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) tax-exempt research organization based in Naples, Florida. Our mission is to promote better lives for individuals and families by equipping policymakers with principled strategies to replace failed health and welfare programs nationwide.

As required by federal law, we have never, and do not, engage in campaign-related activities.Therefore, it was disturbing to discover that voters in the 57th District have just received a letter branded with our name and logo that compares current candidates for the 57th District seat in theUtah House of Representatives.

A copy of this letter is attached. You will note that it purports to be from the “Utah Chapter” of the Foundation for Government Accountability and uses our exact logo and even some of the language from our mission statement.

We work with policymakers in a variety of states, including Utah, but have no state chapters, and have authorized no such letter to be sent under our name.

This blatantly false representation is, at best, a clumsy attempt to steal our credibility in order to affect the outcome of the election in District 57, and at worst, a direct attempt to undermine our tax status with the Internal Revenue Service, as federal law prohibits us from intervening in political campaigns.

Even if the letter has neither affect, it has still caused irreparable harm to our reputation among the voters of the 57th District and the policy makers in the Utah Legislature. Our ability to carry out our mission depends on a strong reputation for integrity and objectivity.

This letter likely also damages the reputations of one or more of the candidates mentioned in the letter, as anyone who would steal an organization’s identity is also likely to be less than truthful in their statements about candidates.

I respectfully request that your office conduct a full investigation into this mailing to determine who was behind it, and to force them to cease misappropriating our name and brand. And if this action violates the criminal code of Utah, to push for a full criminal prosecution of the perpetrator.

To assist you in your investigation, I have included a copy of one of the letters received by voters and the envelope in which it was sent. The U.S. Postal Service may have a record of who paid for the mailing, as it was mailed via bulk rate.

Please keep me informed of the progress of your investigation into this matter, and whether I can provide any further information that would be useful to you. I can be reached at jbechtle@thefga.org or 239-244-8808.

Jonathan Bechtle, J.D.
General Counsel

CC:
Utah Representative Brian Greene
57th District Candidate Holly Richardson
57th District Candidate John Glen Stevens

Full complaint: [gview file=”http://fga.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014.04.10-FGA-Letter-re-fraudulent-mailing.pdf”]

[gview file=”http://fga.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/Fraud-envelope-image-.pdf”] [gview file=”http://fga.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/Fraud-letter-Pg1.pdf”] [gview file=”http://fga.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/Fraud-letter-Pg2.pdf”]