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O'Rourke Campaign: 'Impostor' Responsible For Texts About Helping Undocumented Immigrants Vote

Bob Daemmrich/BDP Inc.
U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke bounds onstage to speak on criminal justice reform at the Rise Up! rally against social injustice at the Texas Capitol.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a statement from the Ted Cruz campaign.

The campaign of Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, says an "impostor" was behind a text message that surfaced Wednesday asking voters to help people who are in the country illegally cast ballots.

"Hi, it's Patsy here w/ Beto for Texas," reads the text, which was circulating on social media. "Our records indicate that you're a supporter. We are in search of volunteers to help transport undocumented immigrants to polling booths so that they will be able vote. Would you be able to support this grassroots effort?"

"That was not an approved message by the campaign," said Chris Evans, O'Rourke's communications director. "It was sent by an impostor. But we're continuing to look into what happened."

Another apparently unauthorized text shared with the Tribune also said it was from "Patsy" and told readers that the campaign is "conducting an internal poll and would like to know your thoughts on the dangers of socialism." It was not immediately clear how many unapproved texts went out and how many voters they reached.

The campaign of O'Rourke's opponent, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, said it had nothing to do with the texts.

"Our campaign had no involvement in the alleged abuse of the O'Rourke campaign's texting platform," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement. "We don't condone anyone who would engage in such action."

Calls to numbers associated with the texts led to a voicemail message that referenced Relay, a peer-to-peer texting company based in California. A company representative said he did not have any information about the texts and referred a reporter to the O'Rourke campaign.

The O'Rourke campaign has made an aggressive effort to reach voters through texts — so much so that Cruz has said that even he and his dad have received multiple messages from his rival's campaign.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

Patrick Svitek is a reporter for the Texas Tribune. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.