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Anonymous mailers targeting Sandy candidate are illegal

Posted at 5:44 PM, Oct 23, 2023

SANDY, Utah — With election season fully underway, some Sandy residents have received anonymous mailers targeting a specific city council candidate.

For nearly two weeks, Aaron Dekeyzer has been targeted by the mailers which claim to be paid for by a group of very concerned Sandy residents.

"At the beginning it was kind of silly, the attacks are really ridiculous and baseless and there's like Homer Simpson on one of them and it's silly stuff," said Dekeyzer, "but with the second one coming out it's a little bit unnerving, especially the use of my children on the ads and the website that's just unacceptable."

As of Monday, the people behind the mailers haven't registered with the state as a political action committee which is against the law. Utah code 20a-11-901 requires ads, including direct mailing, to designate responsibility and authorization.

"They should have to say who they are, it should be public," Dekeyzer demanded. "The public deserves to know about it and so should I."

The code also specifies that political action committees need to file an initial statement of organization with the Lieutenant Governor's office no later than 5 p.m. seven days after the day the PAC receives contributions totaling at least $750 or spends money for political purposes totaling at least $750.

"We need transparency, if it's your opponent that's putting out the flier, they should advertise that," said Rep. Gay Lynn Bennion (D-Cottonwood Heights). "If it's a PAC, they should have the name and person that's organized the PAC should be transparent and visible for the community to know."

Bennion sponsored House Bill 258 in 2022 which increased the penalty for failing to register as a PAC. The move came after a 2021 election in Cottonwood Heights saw a similar issue with an unregistered group acting as a PAC.

The offense is now a Class B misdemeanor.

"...if someone reports they think someone is acting as a PAC and not filed, they can call the Lieutenant Governor's office and if they don't register within seven days or show they're not a PAC, that is a $100 fine and referral to the attorney generals office who can investigate what's going on," added Bennion.

Other Sandy City Council candidates also oppose the mailers focused on Dekeyzer.

"While the campaigns have been largely positive, I have been made aware of a mailer that attacks one of my opponents. I strongly condemn this type of campaigning and call on all candidates and outside groups to commit to fair, issue-focused campaigns,' said current councilwoman and candidate Cyndi Sharkey in a statement.

Dekeyzer remains hopeful the group behind the anonymous mailers will be identified.

"We have some inclinations on who might be doing it, but we have to continue our investigation," he said, "it is illegal per the Lieutenant Governor's office so we continue to work closely with them to try to figure out who did it."