SALT LAKE CITY — A political action community known as People4SaltLakeCity is using FOX 13’s name to send out text messages to voters, blasting two candidates for Salt Lake City mayor.
The text message states, “Fox13News reports Mendenhall & Escamilla took $$$ from INLAND PORT developers & far-right GOP legislators. It concerns People4SaltLakeCity. Does it concern you?”
FOX 13 has reported on every candidate’s campaign contributions, but has not referred to any of the contributors as “far-right GOP legislators” or “INLAND PORT developers.”
The two candidates mentioned in the text message, Erin Mendenhall and Luz Escamilla, said the text messages are an example of someone distorting public information for the gain of another candidate.
“Donors are on our website. You can go and see who’s donated. There are no inland port developers donating,” Mendenhall said. “How they’re classifying far-right GOP legislators? They didn’t tell us what they mean by that, who they mean by that. I’m a Democrat. I’ve always been a Democrat, and the reality is -- to get things done in Salt Lake City – when it comes to working with the state you’re going to work with Republicans.”
Mendenhall said she does not know who is behind the PAC, but she knows People4SaltLakeCity has sent out messages endorsing candidate David Garbett.
People4SaltLakeCity is the same PAC that sent out a mailer depicting candidates Mendenhall, Escamilla, and David Ibarra as cartoon sheep in an effort to criticize candidates liked by Governor Gary Herbert.
The same PAC has also reportedly sent mailers in support of Garbett with a photo of him and current Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who tweeted to clarify that she did not endorse any of the candidates.
The PAC has not responded to phone calls from FOX 13.
Escamilla called out Garbett on Facebook, although not by name.
“Some folks are getting desperate and slinging mud,” she wrote. “The funny thing is that this line of attack is coming from the only developer in the race, whose campaign is largely self-funded from his developer family, and a PAC funded by developers.”
Garbett spoke to FOX 13 on the phone and said he is not affiliated with the People4SaltLakeCity PAC.
He also said that he does not agree with the “tone and tenor” of the PAC’s message, and that he will be telling them to please stop.
“I think it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing that Trump-like politics is coming into one of the most local grassroots elections that we should be having in our community,” Mendenhall said. “You don’t buy votes, and this is obviously costing a lot of money for this dark money PAC that’s investing heavily. You earn votes… There’s a paper trail, and it will be interesting to see where it leads, especially after we’ve had multiple hits now from this same dark money PAC that’s really obviously trying to get their hands on this election.”