MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Some voters in Mesa recently received a confusing political text. The City says it’s so mysterious it might even be illegal.
The message was sent out over several weeks, mainly to Republican registered voters, according to Mesa Mayor John Giles.
The text reads, “[Your name] you NEED to vote YES on Mesa QUESTION-1 "home rule." This is not a tax increase as the deplorables would have you believe. This is only a $47 a month utility rate increase (water - gas - sewer - electric) per citizen. Join us and Mesa Mayor John Giles in moving Mesa forward and in the right direction and vote YES. -Democrats for Mayor John Giles.”
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"It was obviously not isolated. It went out to a large group of people, and it was obviously targeted people who were registered Republican,” said Giles.
Giles believes the wording is meant to irritate and intentionally confuse Republican voters into voting "No" for home rule.
Home Rule essentially lets a city make its own decisions on how to spend voter-approved dollars.
“It is not a tax. It is not a tax increase. It has nothing to do with utility rates,” said Giles.
Most cities in Arizona have home rule, including Mesa. Every four years, voters are asked if they want to keep it.
“Question 1 is very important to the City of Mesa, but is something that is hard for people to understand what it is," said Giles.
And if home rule goes away, Giles says $200 million, nearly half the City's general fund, cannot be spent.
"If home rule fails, we're going to have to shut down a lot of services like parks and libraries and museums,” he said. “And even then there's no way around not laying off police officers and firefighters."
Now the City clerk is investigating who is behind the text.
“We're going to hold people accountable. This is very possibly illegal, it's obviously fraudulent,” said Giles.
There are rules political campaigns need to follow when they’re spending money to influence voters for or against candidates or issues. After a certain dollar amount, groups are required to register.
The group claiming to have sent the text, “Democrats for John Giles,” does not exist, according to Giles.
There’s one other glaring problem with the text: Giles is Republican. He's also not up for reelection for another two years.