The group behind the tax limitation initiatives that will appear on the November ballot issued a release Friday charging a rival group with meddling in the initiative petition process.

The two-page release from the Tax Limitation Coalition criticized Taxpayers For Utah, a group that formally announced its intentions to battle the initiatives at a press conference earlier this week.The release stated that Taxpayers For Utah "sent `instructions' from a law firm to all county clerks" and asked the lieutenant governor's office to send petitions back to the county clerks so names could be removed.

Phil Mettra, Taxpayers For Utah campaign manager, said that the letter, drafted by lawyers who have donated their time to the group, was sent in June "to make sure this was a fair process."

The letter asked that petitions be returned to county clerks only if questions were raised about the validity of some signatures, Mettra said, adding that he did not believe any had been returned.

He said Taxpayers For Utah never intended to interfere with the petition process. "There was no threat to any of the county clerks. It was purely informational," Mettra said.

An assistant to Lt. Gov. Val Ove-son, Jeff Pitcher, agreed that the letter was informational and said it had no effect on carrying out the Lt. Governor's responsibility to certify that the petitions qualified for the November ballot.

"We just filed it," Pitcher said of the letter. "These were things we already knew about and that the county clerks knew, too."