SALT LAKE CITY — An email posted Tuesday on Twitter telling volunteers for Rep. Jim Matheson how to respond to questions about who he supports for president is a fake, the campaign said.
"It categorically has nothing to do with our campaign," said Matheson campaign spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend. "It's pretty clear from the social media traffic that it originated with our opponent's campaign."
The six-term Democratic congressman is locked in a heated battle with Republican Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District.
Michael Jolley, a Love supporter who has been paid to do social media work for her campaign, received the email from a purported former Matheson staffer named Tanya Stanworth. Heyrend said the Matheson camp never had a volunteer with that name, and the name does not appear in Utah's voter registration roll.
Jolley posted the email on Twitter and questioned Matheson's integrity. Others retweeted his post during the day. After doing some checking, he determined the email sender apparently set up a bogus online profile, said Ivan Dubois, Love campaign spokesman.
"I'm apologizing to team @MathesonforUtah for posting a screenshot of an email that I now believe to be a fake," Jolley tweeted later.
The memo says in part, "We urge you to feel out each caller for their party affiliation and then state Congressman Matheson is leaning toward the caller's affiliated party's candidate."
It goes on to say, "We have the luxury of having an independent voice in Jim Matheson. He does in fact lean toward Romney on some issues and President Obama on others."
The Matheson campaign does not have a script for volunteers to follow if asked who the congressman supports for president, Heyrend said.
She said the online traffic points to the Love campaign as the source of the email.
"How do they know it's a fake if they weren't the ones who faked it?" Heyrend said.
Dubois said the Love campaign had nothing to do with the email.
"There's no reason for us to make up what (Matheson's) already said," he said. "What it says I'm very interested in. I don't care who put it out there."
Matheson has said he plans to vote for Obama, but side-stepped the question lately when it came up. He said earlier that he is not Barack Obama and his opponent is not Mitt Romney.
"Our race is for Congress," Heyrend said.31 comments on this story
Matheson does not mention Obama in his TV ads. But both he and Love have TV ads that bring in Romney.
Love has a new commercial with Romney on camera directly urging people to vote for her. In Matheson's ad, a supporter says he's voting for Matheson and Romney.