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SALT LAKE CITY — City Council candidates are pointing fingers at each other over a campaign mailer sent to west-side residents last month that brings religion and politics into the nonpartisan race.
The postcard uses Kyle LaMalfa's campaign logo and paints LaMalfa as the only progressive, non-Mormon, open-minded and LGBT-friendly candidate in the District 2 race.
"If I say something about this postcard, it looks suspicious," LaMalfasaid. "If I don't say anything, it's outrageous. So I'm doing what I can to set the record straight."
LaMalfa says he didn't send the mailer, and neither did his supporters. The other two candidates in the race, longtime incumbent Van Turner and west-side advocate Michael Clara, also say they had nothing to do with it.
"This postcard was printed and mailed without the authorization of Kyle or his campaign," said Richard Jaramillo, LaMalfa's campaign manager. "If Kyle's supporters didn't send this postcard out, we can only conclude it was one of his opponents."
Among the bullet-point statements on the mailer are claims that:
• "A vote for Van Turner or Michael Clara is a vote for more narrow mindedness." • "The other two candidates (Turner and Clara) are Mormon Republicans — ENOUGH SAID."
• "Kyle is the only candidate who marched in the Utah Pride Parade for (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights."
LaMalfa said the mailer has put him in something of a Catch-22 situation.
"If I say something about this postcard, it looks suspicious," he said. "If I don’t say anything, it's outrageous. So I’m doing what I can to set the record straight."
LaMalfa's campaign issued a press release this week in hopes of letting west-side residents know that the mailing they may have received was not authorized by the candidate.
The postcard was brought to LaMalfa's attention last week, when a resident notified him that she had received it. Another resident who received the mailer then sent a letter to neighbors calling out LaMalfa for "religious bigotry" and encouraging residents to vote for Turner or Clara in the Sept. 13 primary.
"My campaign has been about bringing people together for a stronger community and a better future for our west side," LaMalfa said. "I have never said anything negative about my opponents, their faith or their party affiliation."
Some LaMalfa supporters have pointed fingers at Clara.
"I think (LaMalfa) has gone so far as to say I did it," said Clara, who's making his third attempt to unseat Turner in District 2. "People know right off the bat there is no way I would do that. I barely have enough time to do my own campaign, let alone run his."
Clara also pointed a finger back at LaMalfa, saying the alleged scandal could be "a way to up his name recognition because he has none."
Tuner, who's seeking a fourth term on the City Council, said he hasn't even seen the mailer.
"I don't do those sorts of things," he said. "I haven’t even made a mailing at all in four campaigns of my own."
LaMalfa said he's filed a complaint with the Salt Lake City Recorder's Office. He's also asked Salt Lake police, the Utah Attorney General's Office and the FBI to conduct an investigation.
"I got into this race to talk about issues that matter to the west side," LaMalfa said. "I'm shocked that one of my opponents would stoop this low. … These postcards and mailings are designed to manipulate voters and divide the community. West-side voters are smarter than these sneaky tactics, and they'll see these attacks for what they are — dirty politics."